THE UNIVERSITY OF
THE WILMER COLLECTION
OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS
RICHARD H. WILMER, JR.
Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive
in 2010 witii funding from
University of Nortii Carolina at Chapel Hill
KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
% Wm €tme dS^torp of
" / must become a borrower of the night
For a dark hour or twain."
BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1900, BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
THE MEMORY OF OLIVER PERRY MORTON
THE GREAT WAR GOVERNOR, PATRIOT AND
STATESMAN ; A MIGHTY INSTRUMENT
IN THE SALVATION OF HIS
While presenting the romantic and tragic sides
of the situation with which this story deals, the
author has not strayed from the truth, but has
used the romancer's privilege of gathering into a
narrative facts from many sources. Except in
those chapters dealing with sentiment, — as com-
mon in times of storm and stress as in tranquillity
and safety, — every incident is founded on facts,
which were either actual experiences of the au-
thor's kith and kin, or else the observation of eye-
witnesses. But by far the most important part
was gleaned from the record of the treason trials,
as reported and published by Benn Pitman, the offi-
cial stenographer ; and wherever the ritual of the
order is quoted, it is taken from this report. Ma-
terial was also collected from Greeley's "American
Conflict," Barnes's " History of the United States,"
three different lives of Governor Morton, and the
files of the " Indianapolis Journal " for 1863 and
History slurs over the proceedings of the
Knights of the Golden Circle as a matter of little
moment ; and we of a later generation can hardly
credit the extent of the organization, and the
heinousness of its aims, which included crime and
the disruption of the Union. Yet Governor Mor-
ton managed to keep every act of these Knights
under surveillance. " There was not a moment,"
says Dudley Foulke, " in which they were not
held securely in the grip of the war governor of
Indiana." Quietly and firmly he broke up the
organization by arresting the leaders, and pre-
vented an uprising which, if successful, would
have told very seriously on the outcome of the
war. Six men who were the leaders of the order
in Indiana were tried before a military commis-
sion and found guilty of treason, but were par-
doned by Mr. Johnson, after the assassination of
President Lincoln, through the intercession of
Governor Morton himself.
I. The QuiLTrNG at Mrs. Bowles's ... 1
n. An Awkwakd Squad 9
in. "Companions of Owls" 17
rV. Moke Light 27
V. At "Meeting" 32
VI. The Tin-Peddler 38
VII. The Whittakers 47
VIII. "The Lone Star" 63
IX. Mrs. Whittaker Vindicated ... 71
X. The Polling Officer 78
XI. Overheard 88
Xn. A Hearth-stone Heroine .... 97
XIII. The Barn-Burning Ill
XIV. The Rivals 121
XV. The Barbecue 131
XVI. A Friend in Need 142
XVII. In Bear Den Hollow 148
XVIII. Treats of Failures 157
XIX. An Object of Suspicion 165
XX. The Rescue 177
XXI. The Report to the Governor . . . 191
XXII. The Meetlng of the Grand Council . 202
XXm. Mrs. Neal's Guest 211
XXIV. A Prisoner of War 224
XXV. The " Uprising " .232
XXVI. Captive and Captor 242
XXVII. Capitulation 252
XXVin. The Treason Trlal 270
KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
THE QUILTESTG AT MRS. BOWLES'S
A SCORE of women were seated down the loner
sides of a gaudy calico quilt set up in frames in
Mrs. Sarah Bowles's best room. They were sewing
on it with more or less skill and with lagging in-
dustry amid the hum of voices, subdued to a much
softer key than was usual with them; and they
were indulging in such mild gossip as the rural
community in which they lived had furnished.
The hostess sat at one end of the frames, and
kept an austere eye on her guests. She had the
air of a guard over prisoners, rather than that of
an affable hostess, and her guests showed they felt
it by stealthy glances and subdued snatches of
side-talk. It was a rare event, indeed, when Mrs.
Bowles had company, and rarer still for her to let
any one but herseK set a stitch in her quilts, she
being " so bigotty about her things," as her neigh-
bors declared privately. Some very strong motive
must have compelled her to offer this reluctant
hospitality, but none dared question her. She was
2 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
one of those women that command deference, — a
singular combination, neither hate nor fear, love
nor esteem, rendered by a weaker nature under the
compulsion of a stronger one.
" It 's real queer for Mrs. Bowles to have a
quiltin', hain't it ? " whispered Mrs. Rush to her
neighbor Mrs. Stump, made bold by the entire
stretch of quilt between her and the morose
" 'T is, for a fact ! 'spect she '11 pick out every
stitch when we 're all gone ! " said the other
woman spitefully, knowing too well her own fail-
ings as a seamstress.
" Wonder what made her ? "
" Dun-know. My man ain't bid to supper,
neither. Is yours ? "
" No ; nary man is."
" Mebby it 's 'cause she 's a widow woman,"
hazarded Mrs. Stump. At this moment the glance
of the hostess fell on the two whisperers, who felt
like conspirators, and tried to divert suspicion by
increased assiduity in " running the diamonds "
into which the quilt was laid off.
Mrs. Rush was not a woman easily cowed, and
if a little "flustered," as she would have said,
rallied quickly ; being by nature as insensible as a
rubber ball, — the harder the blow the greater the
rebound, — she called out affably, with that super-
fluity of voice common to people who dwell in the
country and talk across large spaces : —
" Mrs. Bowles, is this the ' Risin' Sun ' pattern,
THE QUILTING AT MRS. BOWLES'S 3
or tlie ' Old Maid's Puzzle ' ? Me an' Mrs. Wilson
can't make out. 'Pears like I never could tell
them patterns apart ! "
Whereupon ensued an animated explanation and
comparison of the two, either sufficiently hideous
to drive one mad ; and Mrs. Bowles's attention was
The discussion at last wore itself out, when a
new topic was started by some one saying : —
" Uncle Billy 's chillin' agin. Seems like he
cain't git 'em broke with bervin nor nuthin' ! My
man see him a-sittin' out in the sun, tilted agin' the
house in his chair, just a-shakin' like a yaller dog
in a thunder storm."
Commiseration was expressed by all for this
universal " uncle," who could claim actual kinship
with none of them. They gave this title to all old
men, and that of " aunt " to all old women after
they had " turned " sixty, as a mark of esteem.
This subject exhausted, another woman added
her budget of news : —
" I heerd that Mrs. Whittaker was took awful
bad agin last night. She 's been a-lookin' terrible.
She 's powerful puny."
" Yes," chimed in her opposite neighbor, " Lu-
cetty 's had to set up, keepin' bags of hot salt and
hop poultices on her stummick, for three nights
" If that woman did n't have the hypo and
would hump herself, she'd be a heap better off.
As to looks, she ^s like a singed cat — ' looks a
4 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
heap worse than she feels,' " observed Mrs. Bowles
" An' Lucetty would n't be as slim as a bean-
pole an' as slab-sided as a scantlin'," added Mrs.
Stump, " If her ma would stir round a little more."
" Poor Lucetty ! 't seems to me a heart of stone
would pity her, with all she 's got on her back.
A sick mammy, and a daddy that 's lazier than a
white dog ! " said Mrs. Rush, with superficial sym-
pathy. Induced by a daring desire to oppose Mrs.
Bowles, of whom the whole community stood in
awe, especially the women, who knew she consid-
ered them collectively a " passel of fools."
" She 's that fond of readin' and study in', too,"
volunteered Mrs. Clark, — who could do neither,
owing to early neglect, yet cherished in her secret
soul a pitiful ambition to learn when she had time,
— " that she sews for the schoolma'am, so she '11
teach her nights. I heerd she 's a studyin' algib-
bery," In an awed voice, "she 'lows to be a
" It 's a heap more gumption than Zeb 's got !
Klllin' 's too good for him ! " observed Mrs. Bowles
To this there was a general assent, and a minute
dissection of the characters of the absent Whit-
takers followed, till some one remarked, " and
Zeb, he 's that feered of the draft," and gave a new
turn to the conversation, and they fell to talking
of the proposed conscription. One quiet little
woman, who lived nearer than the rest to RIdgely,
THE QUILTING AT MRS. BOWLES'S 5
the post village, and had later news, startled them
into vehement discussion by saying : —
" They do say JefP Riddle 's took."
"What's he been doin' ? " asked Mrs. Rush,
the only woman who had perfect control of her
faculties — of which curiosity was the strongest
— under the austere eye of Mrs. Bowles.
" They do say he 'd ought to have went back to
the army a month ago. But Harv Wilson he per-
suaded him it was n't no use to go, as the Rebs
was sure to whip the Yankees, and the North
was n't a-goin' to put up with no more drafts,
and most of the Black Republicans' time was up,
and they was n't likely to enlist again. So he just
'lowed he 'd stay, for he thought it likely Harv
knowed more about it than he did."
" H-m-m, arrested for desertin', I reckon," ob-
served Mrs. Bowles.
" Yes," eagerly assented the speaker, " I disre-
membered the name of it. But, anyhow, he 's in
jail now in Crofton."
" He 's likely to be shot, the fool ! " said Mrs.
Bowles fiercely ; " I told him not to mind Harv."
In that community, blood never became so di-
luted by marriage that kinship ceased ; and it was
suddenly remembered that Jeff was the son of
Mrs. Bowles's niece, who had married Harv Wil-
son's cousin, Bill Riddle, and the conversation
thereafter trickled into an uneasy silence. It was
not a pleasant party, for all present felt con-
strained and anxious in the presence of Mrs.
6 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
Bowles, without any definite reason. One or two
of the women were slirewd enough to suspect some
stronger motive behind the invitation than mere
friendliness and hospitality, knowing well the lack
of the former and the rarity of the latter on the
part of the hostess. But a quilting was a quilting,
and, as such, too precious an opportunity for a little
pleasure to be lost ; in their dull, monotonous lives
any change was welcome, and rare enough in these
war times. At Mrs. Bowles's there were no lively
sallies, no rather broad jokes, retailed at the tops
of their robust voices, to be greeted with bursts of
shrill laughter, as were common elsewhere on such
occasions. They chafed inwardly at the restraint
too fine for their comprehension, and privately
harbored the resentment weak natures feel at the
wordless contempt of the strong and arrogant,
which they instinctively recognized Mrs. Bowles
It was a relief to one and all when supper was
announced, and they filed out through the door
into the dazzlingly clean kitchen, where the drop-
leaf table was set, its length further extended by a
smaller one to accommodate them all. The supper
was bountiful and excellent, and nearly everything
on the table was the product of Mrs. Bowles's
farm, which she managed and largely worked by
herself. The coffee was parched barley with a
dash of genuine, for the real article at fifty cents
a pound was not to be thought of; the jellies,
preserves (of which there were numerous kinds),
THE QUILTING AT MRS. BOWLES'S 7
" float " cake; and rhubarb pies were all sweetened
^tli the maple sugar made in the camp in the
early spring. The meats were ham, cured by her,
and chickens of her own rearing. She had spun
and woven the table-cloth, and also her brown
checked linsey gown, and the gay rag-carpet on
the floor. Mrs. Bowles was indeed a capable
woman, one of the kind men hate and women
envy. She could have led an army, like Joan of
Arc or an Amazon. A longing for heroic action
smouldered in her soul, a passion for conflict, that
would have led her to kill an enemy ruthlessly.
Failing an outlet for these misplaced emotions, she
was a woman who had boundless contempt for her
own sex, and was a hater of men because they
failed to make use of their opportunities ; her
ideas were heroic, and the men about her were not
heroes. Yet her opinions were matters of princi-
ple and conscience, and carried her to extremes ;
for she had no sophistry in her nature, and could
not permit herself a middle path.
The guests were waited on by Liddy Ann Col-
lins, Mrs. Bowles's " hired girl," a sort of second-
ary hostess, who made up in trifling garrulousness
for the taciturnity of her mistress ; in truth, she
was vastly the more popular of the two, for " girls "
in that locality stood on an equal footing with the
families which they served. A kind of pity was
felt for Liddy Ann by the neighbor women ; and
when one of them ventured to express it openly, she
replied, with the accidental wisdom of a fool : —
8 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" I ain't got no cause to complain. She pays me
my dollar a week reg'lar. An' her hark 's worse 'n
her bite. She ain't like the balance of us weemen,
but the Lord A'mighty made her, I reckon, like
he did the rest of us. If she 's more stronger 'n
we are, — like a man, — 't ain't her fault, as I
know of ! "
After supper, all retired to the " settin' room,"
also connected with the kitchen by a door, to get
their wraps from the bed, piled high with feathers.
Mrs. Bowles's house had but three large rooms, and
a tiny bedroom off the kitchen, devoted to Liddy
Ann, and on this occasion the sitting-room served
as a dressing-room for her guests. The company
quietly dispersed down the long lane through the
sun - tinted twilight of the chill April evening.
They parted with loud and reiterated good-bys at
the big gate where the lane entered the road ; some
climbed the rail fence into a field, while others kept
to the path by the roadside.
As the last one disappeared down the dip of the
hill, Mrs. Bowles, who was looking after them
from her doorway, said with a short, contemptuous
laugh : —
" A pack of fools ! Them men owe me some-
thing for this day's work ! My quilt 's nigh about
spoiled ! I '11 have to pick out every stitch of it
and wash it, to make it decent."
AN AWKWAED SQUAD '
While Mrs. Bowles's guests were stitching and
gossiping, the men were very differently and, as
they thought, secretly employed ; for the quilting
was a mere pretext to rid them of the " women
folks," and their insatiable curiosity and eternal
questioning, and in this Mrs. Bowles was their
That there were meetings many and mysterious
the women were beginning to suspect, forced to
misgiving by the poor excuses the men — hard
pressed through lack of the inventive faculty —
gave for their frequent absences. As yet, none of
them had been bold enough or shrewd enough to fer-
ret out this mystery. At about the hour when the
quilting party were discussing the Whittakers, a
farm wagon might have been seen making its way
from Crofton — the seat of Middle County — by
an unfrequented road, along which there were but
two houses for a distance of several miles. The
road was a series of dips up and down all the way.
At one moment nothing could be seen but the un-
dulating corn-fields, ploughed but not planted ; for
the season was backward even for the last of April,
10 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
and no corn would be dropped in that locality till
the pawpaw leaves were as big as squirrels' ears,
a rule laid down by the pioneers and proved by
experience. The next instant, from the top of the
rise a glimpse might be caught of a tiny cabin set
in an enchanting dale, surrounded by young green
wheat ; or a sparkle of sunlight on the creek,
whose course was indicated by the glaring white
trunks of leafless "ghost trees," as the Indians
called the sycamore. Lem Beasly, the driver of
the vehicle, was a sun-tanned farm-hand, strong
and healthy, dressed in rough, faded clothes of
home-made butternut jeans. By his side on the
high spring seat of the wagon sat a youth, also
strongly built and of medium height. He lacked
the ruddy hues one would look for, with his bright
blonde hair, lucent blue eyes, and sturdy physique.
Over his face spread a pallor and wanness inex-
plicable, and his air would have been languid but
for the momentary interest that roused him. The
eager glance of the eye, the smile of recognition as
familiar points in the landscape pleased him, testi-
fied mutely that, for some reason, it was all dearer
now than when last seen. In every respect he
was a contrast to the driver ; but perhaps the most
marked difference lay in their clothing, for the
young man was dressed in army blue, and evi-
dently took no small pride in the fact. It was
Frank Neal, at home on a furlough, after having
been taken prisoner and confined at Andersonville
three months. He and Lem seemed to have been
discussing this, for he said : —
AN AWKWARD SQUAD 11
" If it had n't been that some men from a New
York regiment were there, too, I 'd been rotting
"Why, how's that?"
" Well, for some reason the ' Johnnies ' always
exchange the New Yorkers first. All of us Hoo-
siers know that. I had a chum in this New York
regiment, but the poor fellow died — starved ! —
didn't stand it three months. A rumor went
around — I never did know how it got started —
that there would be an exchange, and we knew the
New Yorkers would have the first chance. So I
just changed clothes with poor Van Voort, — he
had died at my side in the night, — and I was all
right. When they called out his name I answered,
and when they examined me I was from the — th
New York and not from the — st Indiana, so that 's
how I am here. I sent his things to his folks, and
wrote and told them all about it. Poor Van ! he
was a good fellow, — as brave a boy as ever lived,
and he never whimpered, but he 'd been raised in
a city and he could n't stand it."
Tears rose to Frank's eyes, and for an instant
he fell into sad musing ; then, throwing off the
mood, he observed brightly : —
" My folks don't look for me till to-morrow.
And you bet I was glad to see you in town, Lem !
Saved me a six-mile tramp, for I never could stand
it to wait. But I 'm hardly strong enough yet for
that long a walk."
" That 's so," said Lem, with a sympathy of tone
his words could not convey.
12 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" Where are you living now, — on the Culver
place yet ? "
" Yes," said Lem, " been there nigh a year."
" Left Harv Wilson, did you ? "
" Yes. Harv 's just a leetle too much of a ' But-
ternut ' for me. Whiles I 'm a Democrat, I ain't
no ' Copperhead,' and that 's what he is."
" Glad to hear that, Beasly ! If there were
more fellows like you, the governor would n't be
worried by the stay-at-homes."
As Frank spoke, they dipped into a valley which
gave them glimpses into its green windings, and
his sharp eyes saw moving objects that he could
not make out, appearing and disappearing below
a gentle swell.
" Hello ! What 's that, Lem ? " pointing in the
" Don't you bother your head about them, young
feller ! " said Lem with emphasis ; " better lot Cop-
perheads alone ! Don't stir 'em up. They 're apt
to bite, an' their bite 's pizen."
" Well, who are they, anyway ? "
" I '11 tell you, but never tell it as comin' from
me. It 's the Knights a-trainin'."
"Knights ? what knights ? "
" Ain't you heerd about 'em ? ' The Sons of
Liberty,' or ' The Knights of the Golden Circle,'
as we call 'em here. They 're all the same. 'Spect
that 's the Riffle Township Temple a-trainin'."
"You don't mean to say they 're in this township,
a township that was first to fill its quota? "
AN AWKWARD SQUAD 13
" They just are ! But fillin' that there last quoty
took nigh about all the Union men there was left
out of this county, except the fellers, like your pap,
that 's too old to go, and War Democrats, and a lot
of them went, too."
" Who 's at the head of this business ? "
" Old Harv Wilson 's County Commander. Now
don't you tell this ; it 's as much as my neck 's
worth ! But he 's been in and around Kidgely,
an' 's goin' to hold a meetin' in our township to
form a branch Temple next Friday night in that
there little empty log-cabin on his place. They
come to me, an' says I, ' No siree ; whiles I 'm a
Democrat I ain't no Copperhead ! ' They 're a-gittin'
a Temple in every township in this here county ! "
Both men looked intently eastward at the mov-
ing objects, which were too much obscured by the
nature of the land, and too far off, to take the shape
" They played it smart on their weemen ! OF
Miz Bowles helped 'em. She 's one of 'em, as
much as a lady can be. Got all the weemen-folks
to her house to a quiltin' so 's to give the men a
chance to drill. Lord, wouldn't Miz Rush be as
mad as a wet hen if she know'd it ! She 's as
spunky as a rat when her dander 's up ! " and Lem
chuckled with enjoyment.
" You 're right, Lem. Keep out of it ! It 's a
" You bet ! " was Lem's laconic reply, which
nevertheless conveyed his opinion of the danger as
well as many words.
14 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" I believe I '11 take a look at them and see
who 're there." Even as he spoke, Frank's foot
was on the wheel and he dropped lightly to the
ground. Lem looked troubled. " Be mighty sly,
and don't let 'em ketch a squint of you ! " he
warned. " But you 'd better not go at all."
" But I will ! You drive on and wait for me
at the creek. I '11 not be long."
Frank swiftly and warily made his way toward
the dip, and, when he reached a point where ob-
servation was possible, threw himself flat on the
ground. It was a strange sight for that retired
spot. Below him lay a tiny vale, on which was
spread a thick sward of blue grass, nibbled short
as the pile of velvet by the sheep, which were hud-
dled afar off, watching the intruders with timid
surprise. Over it fell the brilliant sunshine of
late April, un tempered by shadows, for as yet the,
pawpaws and little elms on the hills shutting it
in were leafless. A swift, strong stream of April
wind blew unceasingly, and brought with it faint,
sweet scents of opening buds, robbed from trees
far out of sight, and the resinous odor of the new
greenery of the j)ines that grew a mile away on
the bluffs of Honey Creek. It bore the hum of
bees reveling in the bloom of the wild plum, the
contented chirping of hedge - sparrows building,
and the few rare flutings of the meadow-lark. To
men intent on conspiracy and sedition, these appeals
of nature for peace and happiness fell as on the
ears of the deaf. Even Frank, so thankful to be
AN AWKWARD SQUAD 15
free from the horrors of prison to watch the coming ,
of spring in the open country that he loved, gave
these things no heed. He was intently watching
the spectacle below him. Twenty-five or thirty
men were going through military evolutions with
guns roughly cut out of wood, in order to give them
skill in handling arms, when they should have ac-
quired them. These they managed more or less
clumsily, but it was evident they were earnestly
seeking to gain dexterity. Not a word was spoken
except by the drill-master, whose commands were
given in so low a tone that Frank could not catch
" Well, I 'U be shot ! " said Frank after watching
them for a few moments. He could not but adaiire
their cunning in selecting their parade-ground, for
the little valley was so retired that it was rarely
traversed, and the road by which it was reached
was a mere lane near the " big road." Lem had
taken this short cut to accommodate a farmer liv-
ing on it, fetching home his plough, which had
been sent to town for repairs.
Frank went back as secretly as he had come, and
joined Lem at the ford as he had agreed.
" Lem," he said, " that means mischief ! I '11
not go on with you. Swear to me — Hold up
your hand ! " Lem did so. " Swear that you '11
not tell what you saw, and that I came home to-day
and was with you ! "
Lem took the required oath, then asked anx-
iously : —
16 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" What you goin' to do ? "
" That I can't tell you. You 're loyal, are n't
" Now drive on, for it may save trouble if you
don't even know the direction I take."
Lem drove, splashing through the creek, up the
hill and out of sight, while Frank watched him,
and, when he could no longer hear the clatter of
the wagon, faced about and returned over the road
by which he had just come from Crofton.
" COMPANIONS OF OWLS "
It was late for a farm-liouse to show the glow of
a candle, for the working day was long in that
community : they arose at dawn, and were in bed
before the afterglow had scarcely faded. Yet a
thin thread of light revealed itself from a cabin on
the extreme bounds of Harv Wilson's farm. In
spite of a heavy horse-blanket hung on a nail on
one side of the casement, and made fast by a jack-
knife thrust into the frame at the other, a betray-
ing shaft fell across the dooryard. Within the
cabin, a company of half a score of men had gath-
ered at this unwonted hour near midnight. The
cabin had but one room, in which there was no
furniture, for the last tenant had moved out. A
rickety bench, a goods-box, and sundry billets of
firewood furnished the seats. On the rude shelf
above the fireplace, in which were the cold ashes of
the last fire, were two candles stuck into potatoes
shaped for the purpose.
Harv Wilson himself was there, and seemed to
be the moving spirit. He was one of those domi-
nant men found in every community, a self-con-
stituted leader, the " big man " of the neighbor-
18 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
hood. Unfortunately for his followers, he was an
unrighteous man, and his influence was wholly-
evil. He was unprincipled in business transac-
tions, and his face gave condemning testimony to
his private character. The swarthy red of his
skin and his mottled cheeks told of intemperance
and sensuality ; his bloodshot eyes, with thick lids
half closed, were crafty and cruel, and his narrow
forehead betokened scant intellectuality and low
cunning. His nose was bulbous and pitted, after
years of hard drinking. The flabby skin hung
down along his throat like the dewlap of a bull,
and bristled with short red beard. His counte-
nance proclaimed him a knave of the lowest sort.
Yet he possessed a rude, virile force that enabled
him to govern men. His very figure, with its mus-
cular legs and brawny torso, testified to his power.
He possessed tireless endurance, great courage,
even utter fearlessness, because of his contempt of
law and order, decency and probity. He feared
neither God nor man, heaven nor hell, as he often
Harv was wide awake and listening, but the
other men were blinking sleepily, worn out with a
hard day's work.
" "Well, boys," he said, " if they don't come
pretty soon, there won't be any ' Vestibule ' to-
night. They were due at eleven o'clock, and it 's
nigh on to midnight now," and he closed his watch
as he spoke.
" Maybe they 're lost," hazarded one man.
"COMPANIONS OF OWLS" 19
" Both of them fellers thought they could get here
by directions, but that 's not so easy."
They lapsed into silence again, for farmers de-
prived of their natural amount of sleep are not
Harv Wilson's " place " lay in Honey Creek
Township, — about six miles southwest of the
Bowles farm, which was situated in Ri£3e Town-
ship, — in one of the beautiful, picturesque spots
so common to that part of Indiana, but more espe-
cially found along the sinuous course of Honey
Creek. The house where he lived was secluded
and difficult to reach. It lay on a by-road that
branched off the turnpike leading to Crof ton. The
cabin was still more difficult to find. It stood on
the top of a bluff overlooking the creek, and the
only means of egress was by a wagon track across
the fields to Harv's lane and thence to the road.
This isolation did not matter much to its tenants,
for they were usually too poor to own a team. Be-
hind the cabin, a narrow path led down to the bot-
tom of the ravine and followed the spring branch
to the creek. This gorge opened wide, like a gap-
ing mouth, at the place where the " branch " (as
brooks are invariably called in the vernacular of
the South and West) emptied into the creek, and
here there was a deep, funnel-like pool, excavated
in storms by the heavy flow of water from the ra-
vine. Such a spot was usually a landing place for
canoes, where one rudely hollowed from a log, and
belonging to the tenant of the cabin, generally lay
20 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
tied up. But to-night there were three or four,
and another had just been made fast ; while filing
up the steep path were three men, cautiously pick-
ing their way as if unused to the place. Not a
word was uttered. The occasional roll of a pebble,
and the heavy breathing of a portly man, blown by
the unusual exertion, were the only sounds that
broke the heavy stillness. Even the owls and
night-prowlers were silenced by this unwonted in-
trusion. This walk was not without an object, but
led them straight to the cabin whence the flash of
light came. On reaching the door, the foremost
man knocked twice softly and slowly, then three
times rapidly. His companions were some dis-
tance in the rear. A voice within asked a question
that was audible to him only, to which he replied,
" America," in a low tone, and Harv Wilson opened
the door to them.
After exchanging greetings, the new - comers
were civilly offered the rude seats, then an uneasy
silence fell upon the company. All were known to
each other, as they lived on farms near by or in the
village of Ridgely. Alec Rush, the blacksmith at
the cross-roads. Dr. Skagg of Ridgely, and Tom
Peyton, a clerk in the general store in Ridgely,
were the latest comers.
" We got into the wrong landin','' said Alec,
" it was so dark. These two fellers aint got no
notion of handlin' a canoe, and I had a hefty load
a-polin' down. Three 's a tight fit for my dugout.
Ain't the Commander here yet ? We 'lowed we 'd
be the last."
"COMPANIONS OF OWLS" 21
Harv was about to answer him, when a low,
mournful cry, " 0-a-k-h-o-u-n," long drawn out,
ending in a wail, sounded startlingly near. To
most of the men it seemed to have no particular
significance, but by Harv it was comprehended
perfectly; for he answered by going to the door,
raising the latch, which could not be lifted from
the outside, as the leather latch-string had been
pulled in to guard against intrusion. He answered
the cry with a similar one, and in a moment three
men stood at the door, with each of whom he car-
ried on a strange colloquy, with lengthy pauses
between parts of words and sentences.
" What — a star " —
" Arc — turns," replied the man outside.
" What — of — the — night ? "
« Will — ye — inquire ? "
" Inquire — ye ? — Come."
" O — rion " was the password given with the
" o " long drawn out. The new-comers were then
permitted to enter ; for they were the men ex-
pected from Crofton, and the Grand Temple at
Indianapolis, to institute a branch Temple in
Honey Creek Township. Upon entering, they pro-
ceeded, with grotesque gravity, to give Harv the
grips and signs of the degree of the Knights of
the Golden Circle, to which they belonged, while the
others present gaped in amazement. One of these
men Harv did not know, and he looked him over
suspiciously, peeping from a narrow slit between
his dropped eyelids, although the stranger seemed
22 imiGHTS IN FUSTIAN
perfectly familiar with all the forms. The object
of his distrust was a tall, slight young man, of com-
monplace appearance, whose dark gray, near-sighted
eyes were shielded by spectacles. His light red-
dish hair was accompanied by a fair, delicate skin
thickly sprinkled with freckles ; a large, pleasant
mouth filled with perfect teeth gave him an amia-
ble expression. He was quick and nervous in all
his movements, but remarkably slow of sjDeech.
Stephen Coultiss — the Commander of the Pa-
rent Temple of Middle County at Crof ton — was
heavy-set and low-browed. Above his forehead
rose a thick shock of black hair, which gave one
the impression of its being stacked like straw. His
mouth was wide, with thin shaven lips set between
the heavy jaws of a remarkably broad face. A
short, thick beard covered the throat only, leaving
the cheeks and chin bare. Altogether, his appear-
ance was neither prepossessing nor intelligent.
The third man was Dodd, Grand Commander of
Indiana. He carried himself alertly, and wore the
eager air of an enthusiast whose fatuity carried
him above all minor considerations of prudence
and caution. He was fearless because foolhardy,
and had not prescience to foresee results. His
schemes were of amazing magnitude and audacity,
to the successful issue of which he was brought to
see no obstacle until the gallows waved its hideous
arms over his head. He could lead men mysteri-
ously ; men of cool heads, calculating minds, com-
mon sense, even intellect, were enthralled by the
"COMPANIONS OF OWLS" 23
spell of his bombastic sentimentality, and borne
along by the rush of his enthusiasm to ruin ; some
to prison, some to banishment, some to their
Harv was well acquainted with these two men,
one of whom observed his manifest mistrust of
" Oh, he 's all right," said Coultiss, as if Harv
had uttered his doubts. " He 's one of us, straight
from ol' Kaintuck."
" I came from Louisville, sir, and my name is
Oliver Tapp," said the suspect, with that soft slur-
ring of the " r's " peculiar to the South.
" He 's a-peddlin' tinware," said Coultiss, with
a wink and a grin at the company in general.
Harv drew Tapp and Coultiss into a corner and
asked in a low tone : —
" You come from Judge BuUett at Louisville ? "
" Yes, sir ; but later from Indianapolis and
" These fellows ain't even had the ' Vestibule '
degree, and it ain't worth while to let 'em know
too much," said Harv with a backward jerk of his
thumb at the group by the fireplace. " I 'm going
to sound 'em though, and drop 'em a hint that
we 're going to turn this from a political to a mili-
" Have you any definite plans yet ? " asked Tapp
of the Grand Commander, -who had joined them.
" Yes ; but I want to talk them over with the
Commanders of the County Temples first before
24 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
we give them to the members. I 've already in-
structed the Commander of the Innermost Tem-
" Ah," said Tapp quickly, " that 's Bledso of
Indianapolis ! "
" You seem posted," observed Harv.
" I should think so ! " was the significant reply.
" I 've orders from BuUett, who has just received a
general outline of the work of the reconstructed,
order from Vallandighara."
" Suppose we give these fellows the ' Vestibule,'
then we can let them go if they want to, and we
can consult together afterward."
To this they consented, and the work proceeded.
Owing to their restricted quarters and the lateness
of the hour, some of the forms were necessarily
dispensed with. Harv Wilson and Tapp acted as
sponsors, as two were required. Dodd officiated
as Knight Lecturer by right of office, and read
from a ritual of his own composition, in unctuous
"Brothers," he read (meaning the sponsors),
" the purpose ye have declared touching this stran-
ger (the candidate) is most worthy ; let him ad-
vance to our altar by the regular steps ; instruct
him in our chosen solemn attitude, and let him give
testimony of that which is in him."
To this the sponsors agreed by an affirmative
bend of the head.
" Man, thou art now in the Vestibule, and if
found worthy will hence be ushered into the con-
"COMPANIONS OF OWLS" 25
secrated Temple where Truth dwells amid her
votaries/' He read for a few moments in this
high-flown strain, and finished with the ques-
tion : —
" As thou wouldst answer to a good conscience,
is thy soul pure and fitted to the indwelling of the
The candidate, embarrassed by the grandilo-
quence of the ritual, did not know what he was
expected to answer, till he caught an affirmative
nod from Tapp and faltered out a throaty " Yes."
The men very naturally labored under the im-
pression that they were at " meetin'," begotten of
the liberal use of " thee " and " thou," which they
never heard anywhere else, and their faces ex-
pressed seriousness to the verge of sadness. When
possible, the candidates had been "lumped" to
shorten the ceremony, and, as it was now quite
midnight, an unheard-of hour for them to be out
of bed, the Grand Commander hurried through
the Declaration of Principles, which further mys-
tified the new members, and caused one, at least,
to change the opinion he had hitherto held of the
order. Then Coultiss stumblingly read the penalty
for disclosure, which was to the effect that, if a
member divulged the secrets of the order, his body
would be quartered, and one quarter would be
placed at the north gate, one at the south gate,
one at the east gate, and one at the west gate of
this mythical Temple. In plain language, they
were warned of assassination for treachery. They
26 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
were then taught the grips and signs, and rehearsed
the colloquy of the Vestibule degree.
Meantime Dodd, the Knight Lecturer, forget-
ting the time and place, spoke with all the fervor
of an orator before a vast audience. Extravagant
enthusiasm for the cause he championed emanated
from him and roused his hearers, as certain odors
will rouse some animals.
The roll of his restless eye, the ceaseless play of
expression that flashed like sheet-lightning and
scarcely faded ere it reappeared, the frequency
and rapidity of gesture, proclaimed him a reckless
zealot. What wonder that these dull, bucolic
minds were enkindled ! Carried away by Dodd's
irresistible energy, they bound themselves to what
they scarcely knew. They were not collected
enough to realize the full purport of the oaths
they took. In truth, the lowest or Vestibule de-
gree did not enlighten them much as to the pur-
poses of the three higher, into which they were to
be inducted, should they prove to be of the right
kind of material.
It required some time to go through with this
ceremony, abridged as it was, and it left the can-
didates, simple farmers with the exception of the
clerk, bewildered and apprehensive. Most of them
slunk away home, — feeling like black conspirators,
dreading to meet their wives, who would scold and
question, — leaving the others and Harv in consul-
tation with the three strangers.
No sooner had these men withdrawn than those
remaining — among whom were Zeb Whittaker and
Alec Rush the blacksmith — drew together around
a table improvised from a barrel-head, and Coultiss
opened a small valise he had brought with him.
" Are all here faithful ? And do you solemnly
swear to reveal nothing that now transpires ? "
asked Dodd in a tremulous voice, so wrought upon
by the excitement of the occasion as to be almost
Each in his own way gave promise of secrecy,
and Coultiss prepared to lay the contents of the
valise before them. Tapp obligingly took down
from the shelf one of the improvised candlesticks
to further the examination. Within the valise,
neatly packed, were many small vials and several
" A clock-peddler, by golly ! " observed Rush
with a chuckle. " Lots of peddlers to-night ! "
" These are all inventions of one of our order to
help the cause ; " explained Coultiss, " these little
vials hold Greek fire, and when they are thrown
again' a house or barn they burn it ! Nothing '11
28 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
put it out ! We 've already made good use of
them In Kentucky."
"What is this?" asked Harv Wilson, touching
a metal ball thickly set with nipples for caps.
" That 's a hand-grenade. The two halves un-
screw, and in the centre is a vial of an explosive
that is sure to go off whenever it is thrown against
anything. One of these caps will certainly explode
it, there are so many of them."
" W'y, what have we got to do with them
things ? " bluntly asked the blacksmith.
" Use 'em when the time comes ! This war 's
got to stop ! The usurpation of Abe Lincoln's
government 's got to stop ! It 's tyranny ! We '11
not stand the draft ! We '11 resist, and these will
help us ! " answered Coultiss violently.
At this outburst the new recruits looked at each
other in alarm, for they had altogether misappre-
hended the intent of the order ; if they had formed
any opinion of it at all, it was as a sort of safety
valve for letting off surplus dissatisfaction in idle
demonstrations or threats ; that it could lead to
deeds of arson and murder they had never dreamed.
Jim Swazey, the smith's new hand, took it all
coolly, — so much so, indeed, that one would have
thought he was thoroughly posted. Zeb Whittaker
had not energy enough to betray his feeling, if he
had any. But Alec Rush looked very serious, and
felt that Harv Wilson had trapped them as neatly
as he himself did muskrats in Honey Creek.
"These," said Coultiss, taking up one of the
MORE LIGHT 29
clocks, — "I reckon you wonder what they 're for.
They '11 set off the fuse to a mine that '11 blow
up state-houses and forts and arsenals ! They 're
mighty good medicine for ' Lincoln dogs ' ! " and
he smiled wolfishly. " Some of these could be put
to a good use right here in this county, over in
Riffle Township. The Grand Council 's heard of
Abner Neal's sayings and doings, and they 've
ordered a dose out of one of these little bottles for
him ! "
Although Harv Wilson hated Abner Neal as
the most zealous and outspoken Union man in the
adjoining township, a man his opposite in every
respect, yet even he did not like the idea conveyed
by Coultiss's speech.
" You don't mean to kill him, do you ? " Harv
" W-e-1-1, no, — only give him a little hint to
keep his mouth shut ! "
" How will you do it ? " asked Tapp interestedly.
" Well, sir, some man here 's got that to do !
You 're bound by your oaths to help the cause in
every way in your power, and the Council decides
how that is to be done. We think a little hint
like settin' fire to his barn '11 do it, and this is the
stuff for that job ! " said Coultiss, holding up one
of the vials.
He and Dodd observed with annoyance the evi-
dent dislike of the project shown clearly on the
troubled faces about him.
" You know the penalty ! " he said menacingly.
30 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" And there 's another job set for Middle County
Temple ; that 's to raid the jail and let out the
bounty- jumpers and deserters. You 're bound to
help and protect them whenever and wherever you
can, and to resist the draft. These are orders
"There ain't any bounty -jumpers in jail now,
and only one deserter, and he ain't worth the stuff
in that bottle ! " observed Harv, who had been the
means of getting him there.
" That don't matter. It 's the principle," said
" As for the other fellows," observed Jim Swazey,
" they 're well took care of outside of jail ! "
Coultiss gave him a sharp look, which he re-
turned in kind, then said : " We might as well set-
tle Abner Neal's business now. We '11 draw lots.
Now 's the time to show your grit ! "
" I did n't join the Knights to burn my neigh-
bors' barns," said Alec sturdily, " an' I won't
draw no lots, neither ! "
" Remember the penalty ! " said Dodd solemnly.
*' Penalty be damned ! I ain't no firebug ! "
" You '11 not turn traitor to the cause ? " asked
Harv, who knew his man and the uselessness of
urging ; for, like most good-natured persons. Alec
was incredibly stubborn when once his mind was
" No. I '11 respect my oath as far as tellin' goes.
But I '11 see the whole order in the pit before I '11
do such dirty tricks as them ! You may just count
MORE LIGHT 31
me out of the whole sneakin' business ! " And be-
fore they could stop him Alec left the cabin.
" D' you think he 's safe ? " asked Dodd anx-
" Oh, he '11 be mum if he says he will. But
Alec 's set. He won't do nothin' if he says he
won't, though he 's mighty easy-goin' generally,"
" Mr. AYilson, will you proceed to prepare the
lots ? " asked Dodd.
Harv retired to the corner with Coultiss, where
they whispered together and soon returned with
the strips of paper, which they put in a hat and
Harv passed to the half dozen men who remained.
Each put in his hand, and a long breath of relief
testified to the blank he drew. The dullard Zeb
was reached last, and there was left in the hat but
one lot, which, when he turned it over, showed a
rude sketch of the skull and crossbones.
At the forks of the road which led east to Crof-
ton, and south to the village of Ridgely, stood a
weather-beaten church, known locally as " Liberty
Meetin' House." It was not so called from any
political bias, but from the fact of its being free to
itinerant preachers of any denomination who chose
to stick up a notice at the village post-office, or
Alec Rush's smithy, announcing preaching therein.
It had no regular pastor, and any chance preacher
that held " meetin' " had cause to be gratified at
the size of his congregation, though possibly not at
Its motive for coming, which, happily, he was not
wise enough to discern.
•The first Sunday in May was a bright day with
a chill in the air. The hitching-racks around the
little church were crowded with horses. Within,
the benches were filled with their owners ; groups
in the yard were " passing the time of day," while
from every direction laggards were still coming
afoot. The church could not hold them all ; and
men who were unable to find places without going
to the " Amen Corner," yet felt piously inclined,
loitered near the windows to catch the " drippings
AT "MEETING" 33
of the gospel ; " while those not so disposed seated
themselves on the rail fence in the sun, and quietly
exchanged opinions as to the prospects of wheat,
or corn planting, the war, or even the draft, which
was imminent, and opposed in Middle County
with bitter rancor.
The people thereabout were not given to the
study of " doctrine," for their religious training
had been too discursive ; one Sunday they would
listen to a Primitive Baptist, and on others to a
Missionary Baptist, a New Light or Universalist,
a Presbyterian, Old or New School, and occa-
sionally to a Methodist, until their minds were
in hopeless confusion as to future rewards and
punishments and methods of baptism. This Sun-
day, brother Jocktan Teeter, of the Old School
Presbyterians, was to preach. The proceedings
at the opening of the services were not formal.
When a sufficiently large company had gathered,
one of the church officers came to the door and
called out in a big, cheerful voice, " Meetin 's about
to begin. Come in, folkses ! "
In they thronged, filling the seats to overflowing,
men on one side of the house, women on the other.
Some brought in chairs from their wagons, and sat
in the rear of the church, tilted comfortably against
The old custom of lining out the hymn was still
in usage there, and Zeb Whittaker always "led
the tune." He took no other part in the meeting
and made no pretense to any religious belief, but
34 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
dozed peacefully through the sermon, starting vis-
ibly when disturbed by the force and fervor of the
preacher's voice. But he loved to sing, which he
did in a loud thin voice with considerably more
confidence than was warranted, for it had a habit
of breaking on the high notes, at which he was not
in the least discomposed, but there was usually
some snickering on the part of the youngsters in
the congregation. If his daughter Lucetta hap-
pened to be present, the accident was not noticeable,
for she would bravely carry the tune to a finish.
She was a natural musician, and it was rumored
about the neighborhood that she aspired to learn
to play on the cabinet organ, and that Miss Ab-
bot would teach her the use of that instrument, as
well as " algibbery." The purchase of an organ
for Liberty Church had even been broached. Se-
vere were the strictures of the Baptists and Pres-
byterians of the " Old School " when this proposi-
tion was timidly made, for they firmly believed and
forcibly proclaimed that nothing but what had
breath should praise the Lord. Whereupon Alec
Rush, who belonged to the other faction, " 'lowed
he 'd have to send 'em his belisses."
With cheerful if rather dull countenances, un-
musical voices, and curious unfitness on such a
lovely day, they were singing heartily " I would
not live always" to the old tune of "Frederick."
Zeb's voice, as usual, had shattered on the high
note, and Lucetta had continued to the end of the
phrase, like a soaring lark, when half the congrega-
AT "MEETING" 35
tion turned their heads, as if on a pivot, to the door
on the men's side, at the entrance of a new-comer.
Head-turning is contagious in a country assembly
and involves the whole of it. The cause of the
disturbance was Frank Neal, who had reached
home the Thursday before. With innocent vanity
and boyish audacity he came late, glorying in his
uniform, and rather maliciously flaunting it in the
faces of those whom he knew hated it. He wore-
a bright new one, and its yellow cavalry trimmings
were in gorgeous contrast to the rusty blacks, but-
ternut browns, and dull indigos which predomi-
nated in the raiment of the other men. He even
wore spurs, and their jingling could be plainly
heard during the " lining out " as he marched
proudly down the aisle. He would have liked to
wear full accoutrement, but an innate sense of pro-
priety restrained him.
There was much curiosity and surprise expressed
in the faces of those who watched his theatrical
entry, for it was not generally known that Frank
had been released from prison and had got home.
For some private reason, he had kept it " shady,"
as he would have said. He walked forward till
he found a vacant place behind Zeb Whittaker
and in line with Lucetta, close under the pulpit.
At the end of the preliminaries, brother Jocktan
Teeter rose in the pulpit to preach. He was a
man of strong prejudices, no education, a wonderful
vocabulary of lengthy words, which he used from a
fancy for their sonorous sound, though he was igno-
36 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
rant of their meaning. His sermon was a tirade
of abuse against the existing government, inter-
larded with denunciatory texts which suited his
purpose. The boy endured it passively for an
hour, but the flush on his cheeks and nervous
twisting of his body betokened a struggle to keep
silent. On the bench in front of him sat Jim
Swazey, the new hand at the blacksmith's, a stran-
ger to Frank; and at the close of the discourse,
which grew more and more vindictive as it neared
the end, he turned with a contemptuous grin and
stared full into Frank's face. Jim displayed on
the bosom of his blue hickory shirt a device that
was very popular. He gloried in the fact that he
had once been arrested and taken to Indianapolis
for wearing the emblem, and that it had been
decided on the trial " that a man had a right to
wear what he pleased, as it could not be construed
into an ' overt act ' to wear a cross section of a
butternut." He had flaunted it with impunity ever
since, and his example was servilely followed by
the youths thereabout.
Frank's quick eye saw it. Ali'eady enraged by
the covert insults of the preacher, and the taunt
conveyed in Jim's grin, this open display of the
sign of treason was too much. He dived into his
pocket, drew out his knife, opened it, perfectly be-
side himself with fury, reached over and cut the pin
off of Jim's shirt front, threw it on the floor, and
crushed it under his heel. The people immediately
around them who saw the act were paralyzed by
AT "MEETING" 37
fright. Jim's reputation for violence was estab-
lished, and they looked for murder.
" You may be a ' butternut ' inside, but I '11 be
hanged if you shall carry the sign of it outside
while I 'm around ! " Frank hissed in a whisper in
Jim was not a coward, but he was crafty, and
did not resent Frank's violent act at the time, but
" laid it up for him then and there." He knew
these people of Riffle Township well, and realized
that, if he turned on his adversary, a curious clan-
nishness would lead them to espouse Frank's cause
against him, notwithstanding they differed politi-
cally. Frank was a son of the soil ; he was an out-
sider ; in this case discretion was the better part of
valor. It did not suit his purpose to retaliate
there, but his revenge waited. Brother Teeter,
observing signs of a disturbance and fearing an
outbreak, hastily brought the services to a close
and dismissed the congregation.
Frank stopped to speak to but few of his old
acquaintances, not many of whom were sympathiz-
ers with the Union cause, but among those with
whom he exchanged a hand-clasp were Zeb Whit-
taker and his daughter Lucetta.
From that day he was a marked man with the
Ejiights, and the rival and enemy of Swazey.
" La, somebody 's openin' the big gate, Miz
Bowles ! " exclaimed Liddy Ann Collins, as she
stood in the door, peering out from under her hand
down the long lane to the " big gate," the inlet to
" An' there 's a kivered wagon, an' a white horse
with a rope halter. It 's a tin-peddler ! " she ex-
plained, after examining the entire turnout at long
range with that remarkably acute vision of the
country-bred person accustomed to long distances.
Mrs. Bowles gave no heed to Liddy Ann, but
went on with her work. This contemptuous dis-
regard would have dampened the ardor of most
people, but not that of Liddy Ann Collins. With-
drawing her devouring gaze from the peddler, she
turned fully to Mrs. Bowles.
" We need a new b'iler, and a skimmer, and
some pie-pans," she volubly enumerated ; " them 's
Mrs. Bowles, sternly reticent, still made no an-
swer to her handmaiden, but, as the clatter of
tinware became audible, she arose from her wheel,
where she was engaged in spinning fleecy rolls of
THE TIN-PEDDLER 39
wool into yarn, and looked over Liddy Ann's shoul-
der at the peddler, who was now well up the lane.
At the sight of thp: man's face her casual gaze be-
came one of sharp inspection, and after a moment
she said : —
" Liddy Ann, go to the smoke-house and fetch
them three bags of rags. The two crocks of taUow
and the big mould of beeswax are on the swingin'
shelf down cellar ; fetch them too. They '11 nigh
about pay for the things we need. And I '11 dicker
Liddy Ann departed reluctantly as the peddler
drew up at the yard gate, and, throwing the lines
down on the back of his bony horse, he dismounted
from the high seat and walked with a brisk step
and assured air up to Mrs. Bowles. He asked in
a quick, cheerful voice : —
" Can I make a trade with you in the tinware
line to-day, ma'am ? "
"Depends on what you fetch," she answered
He looked around swiftly, and, while he casually
pulled the lobe of his left ear, said with pleasing
distinctness : —
" I 've got lots of useful things, and knickknacks
to please the ladies ; " then, significantly, in a lower
tone, that the weasel-eared Liddy might not hear,
*' and some for the men."
At this instant Liddy Ann appeared, staggering
under the weight of the rag-bags.
"There must be nigh about fifty pound !
They 're awful hefty."
40 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
The peddler took them from her, and she disap-
peared hurriedly into the cellar by an outside door
that opened with two leaves, and was soon back
again with her " plunder," as she called it. They
all walked to the wagon standing in the lane. The
man unbuttoned the door on the side of the wagon,
displayed a lot of cheap tinware, and glibly com-
mended it to Liddy Ann, the saturnine mistress
standing silently by. She made a selection of
the articles she wanted, the peddler meanwhile
jocularly praising her judgment and appearance,
with the freedom of his kind, while she simpered
with delight. The trade over, he turned to Mrs.
" Have n't any use for this kind of an article,
have you ? sell it to you cheap. It 's a fine bread-
box ; keeps bread from drying a long time, and
flies and ants out of it. Fine thing, / tell you ! "
Mrs. Bowles looked at it dubiously and asked : —
" How much does it cost ? "
He named the price.
" Cash or trade ? " she asked shortly.
" Oh, cash for this ! We can't make enough off
of rags to afford to trade for such costly goods as
this ! Comes high, you know, it 's so useful," and
he laughed knowingly and tapped the box. It
did not emit the dull rumble of an empty box, but
gave out a thick, muffled sound.
The woman frowned, but made no reply.
" And here, ma'am, 's a spice - box that goes
along with it. Holds all kinds of precious stuff
THE TIN-PEDDLER 41
in that line. Just the thing for the kitchen ! "
He took up, and extended toward her on the palm
of his hand, — a very delicate, slender-fingered
hand for one of his calling, — a large spice-box
that would hold perhaps a half gallon of spice.
" Guess I '11 take 'em both," said Mrs. Bowles,
after pondering a moment. " Liddy Ann, go look
in the cracked chiny sugar-bowl, the blue one that
was Granny's, — on the top shelf of the pantry, —
and fetch me some change," she said to that dam-
sel, who was much taken with the gallantries of
the peddler and was loth to leave. When Liddy
Ann disappeared loiteringiy on her errand, the
peddler grinned impudently and said knowingly : —
" I thought you 'd take 'em. Come in mighty
handy by and by ! " There was more in this
speech than the mere words conveyed, for Mrs.
Bowles said, almost fiercely : —
" I don't need anybody to help me to make up
my mind, young man, and I stick to it after it is
made ! "
" Oh, nobody doubts that, ma'am. The loyalty
of Mrs. Bowles to anything she puts her mind to
is not questioned by any of us."
She paid no attention to his flattery, nor to the
emphasis of the last sentence, but commanded
sharply : —
"Help me with these things before she gits
The man took up the bread-box, which seemed
heavy, and Mrs. Bowles the spice-box : she had
42 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
not accurately calculated its weight, so that it
nearly fell from her grasp ; but before Liddy Ann
returned, the boxes were disposed of, and Mrs.
Bowles and the peddler were at the wagon, look-
ing at the counterpart of those which had been
" Miz Bowles," bawled Liddy from the house
door, " they ain't a cent in that there cracked
chiny bowl, an' I let it fall an' busted it ! "
" Fall in the money market," facetiously re-
marked the peddler. " That 's lucky. Gold 's
dreadful high ; forty-three per cent, premium I "
By this time Liddy Ann had reached the wagon-
" It does n't make any difference about the pay
to-day, ma'am. I '11 be in the neighborhood a
couple of weeks, and will be passing often, and
you can pay me some time when I 'm going by."
" I '11 pay now ! " said Mrs. Bowles gruffly, and
she went to the house in search of funds.
No sooner had she disappeared than Liddy Ann
began to assume a coquettish air, wetting her lips
with her tongue, smoothing her locks and simper-
ing foolishly, as do some women, unused to men's
notice, in the presence of the most insignificant
" Did I hear you say you 'd be in the neighbor-
hood some time ? " she asked in her " company "
" Yes," said the peddler, as he leaned negligently
against the gate, rather impudently leering at her
THE TIN-PEDDLER 43
in return for the smiles and airs which he fully
" Where 're you atoppin' ? "
" No place yet. Just got here last night.
Stayed at the tavern over at Ridgely last night.
I 'd like to get a place to stay to-night, and maybe
the rest of the week. I 've got right smart to do
in this neighborhood if I sell out my load."
" La, I should say ! You might stay here,
only Miz Bowles is so set agin' men, they never
put their foot on the place 'less they 're sent for.
She don't like none of 'em. Says she knows 'em
all as well as if she 'd knit 'em on two needles and
made up the pattern," and Liddy Ann giggled
" That 's hard on the young fellows, seeing
there's such a nice girl here. You can't make
me believe some young buck don't come,"., said
the peddler jocosely.
" They 'd come mighty peart if she 'd let 'em ! "
said Liddy Ann, nodding toward the door that had
swallowed up the gaunt form of Mrs. Bowles. " I
can take my choice ; fellers or my place ! An' I
ain't a-goin' to give up a dollar job fer no five-cent
man ! "
She gave him a look which delicately conveyed
that she held him at a much higher rate of reckon-
ing. He laughed uproariously, and slapped his
thigh, in appreciation of her sprightly humor.
" It 's mighty rough on the boys, I should say ! "
44 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" Nary a man 's set foot on this place since I 've
been here — and that 's since harvestin' last sum-
mer — that don't belong here, but Alec Rush, an'
he come to set up Mrs. Bowles's new cuttin'-box
that come the day of the quiltin'. There was n't
no men-folks bid to that neither," she interjected
regretfully. " I declare ! I think Miz Bowles is
too hard on 'em ! "
" What kind of a cutting-box was it ? I 'm the
man that can set them up myself ! " asked the
peddler, reverting to the main point, from which
Liddy was prone to wander.
" Now you 've got me guessin' ! I don't know ;
Alec took it off in the boxes. Said it was a tick-
lish job, and he reckoned he could do it better at
the shop. Seemed mighty hard to fix, for he ain't
fetched it back yet ! It 's nigh a week ago he took
" Likely something 's wrong about it, — some-
thing missing. I '11 take a look at it when I pass
the blacksmith's. Where is his shop?"
Liddy obligingly explained, and then asked en-
" Are you argoin' to the barbecue ? "
He had never heard of the barbecue till she
mentioned it, but answered with alacrity, " Oh,
yes. I '11 be there. Hope you will, too. If I
thought you would n't, more than likely I 'd stay
away. When is it to be ? "
" Long about the ' Fourth.' "
" Why, that 's Wednesday."
THE TIN-PEDDLER 45
« Oh, I mean tlie Fourth o' July."
" Good heavens, that 's two months off ! "
Liddy looked surprised at his astonishment ; for
since the last one the whole neighborhood had been
looking forward to the recurrence of the event,
with that patience peculiar to such people. The
barbecue was an institution of the political party
in power in that and the adjoining township, and
occurred as regvJarly as the day rolled round.
She could see no reason for surprise on his part
at its being two months off. Had Liddy been
astute enough, the expression of that emotion by
the peddler would have betrayed to her that he
was accustomed to a crowded and busy life, one in
which events hurried each other ; but she was not
shrewd enough to draw the inference, and, more-
over, her curiosity was entirely without suspicion.
" W'y, that ain't long! " she observed. " I kind
©'thought mebby Jim Swazey 'd ask me to go.
But then he ain't nobody," she said, with a coquet-
tish giggle and a scornful toss of her head.
" He 'd better not," said the peddler, with as-
sumed ferocity, cracking his whip.
" They do say he 's a-settin' up to Lucetty Whit-
taker. But, my ! she 's too ' uppety ' fer him.
She 's a-studyin' algibbery and a-learnin' to play
on the organ ; the schoolma'am 's a-teachin' her.
But, la, I ain't a-carin' who he sparks, long 's
't ain't me ! " and she pursed her lips contempt-
" Who is this girl Lucetta ? " asked the peddler.
46 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" Oh, she 's Zeb Whittaker's girl. Only child
he 's got left, — had scads of 'em, but t' others is all
dead, — and he can't support her and her mammy,
he 's that do-less. They do say lately he 's taken
to sleepin' all day an' runnin' all night. They
ain't no corn shuckin' now," she said musingly, as
if refuting some mental reason for Zeb's peculiar
somnolency. " Anyhow, that 's better than sleepin'
all the time he ain't eatin'."
At this moment Mrs. Bowles reappeared with a
roll of " shin-plasters," — as fractional currency
was called, — much out of proportion to the price
asked for the boxes, one would think, and gave it
to the peddler.
" That settles the bill?" she inquired.
He then climbed to the high seat, turned the
wagon around, nodded to Mrs. Bowles, clucked
to the old horse, and clattered down the lane, not
before giving Liddy Ann a smile which so " flus-
tered " her she did not notice he had gone off with
the boxes after all.
As the peddler closed the gate behind him he
said to himself : —
" I think I '11 take a hand in setting up that
cutting-box ! Shrewd old girl, that Mrs. Bowles ! "
The whirr of Mrs. Bowles's wheel was sounding
again before he closed the gate ; but Liddy Ann
was standing in the doorway looking after him
regretfully. He waved his hat to her from the
road, then drove rapidly off to the blacksmith's,
his load jingling loudly.
The Whittakers lived on a rented place, contain-
ing about thirty-five acres, that belonged to Abner
Neal; and the creek and a by-road separated it
from his home farm. It was a poor, worn-out piece
of land, — from which the loam had washed, leav-
ing bald fields of clay, — overrun by blackberry
vines and thickets of wild plum, and split nearly in
two by a most picturesque ravine. These ravines
formed a peculiar feature of the country there-
about. They seemed to radiate from a common
centre, a point on Honey Creek at the junction of
Clifty (known as " the little creek ") with the big
creek. From the top of a high bluff on the Whit-
taker place could be counted nine of the " back-
bones," as the ridges that separated the ravines
were called. They covered an area of about ten
miles in an almost complete semicircle, and were
on the left bank of the creek, which was very sinu-
ous throughout its entire course. The opposite
side of the stream was lined with rich bottom-lands
rising to gentle hills, where rolling pastures alter-
nated with magnificent woodland and highly culti-
vated fields. In the midst of one of the most
48 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
beautiful of these tracts stood a large brick house,
the Neal homestead.
Every farm touching on that side of Honey
Creek had one or more of the ravines ; some were
deep and dark as canyons, others as winding as
the labyrinth ; still others were shallow glens or
mere hollows. These dark, cool gorges, which
the sun never robbed of their chill, were a tangle
of sarsaparilla and gosling and wild cucumber and
clematis vines that beautified everything near them
with thick shrouding foliage. Shade-loving flow-
ers, ferns, and herbs flourished in the dim green
light and cool moisture of their depths. Great
pines and hemlocks found root-fastness upon their
steep sides ; and in autumn, from inaccessible
ledges, the radiant red of the sumach lent a
transient, dazzling glow to the prevailing gloom.
Where the sun glinted through a mass of foliage,
the partridge-berry grew amid moss and lichens,
giving a dash of color to their dull grays and
greens. Spicewood and sassafras blended their
odors with those of the mints that grew along the
" Branch ; " for, invariably, through every one of
these mimic canyons ran a stream of water, if no
larger than a crystal trickle from a choked foun-
tain. In every case they originated in a spring
at the head of the gorge, where was a place of
silence and sweet odors. The pioneers of Indiana
had wisely chosen to make their homes convenient
to these wells of living water, influenced, no doubt,
by the resemblance of environment to that of
THE WHITTAKERS 49
the mountain gorges of Tennessee and Kentucky,
whence so many of them came.
As a mere artistic feature of the landscape, these
ravines were neither prized nor admired by their
owners. The medicinal herbs and roots and the
various mints which they yielded generously, and
which were in demand for domestic remedies, alone
gave them value. Mrs. Whittaker was skilled in
the preparation of these homely medicaments, for
she knew the name of every plant that grew there
and its peculiar healing virtue. To her, the wild
gorge back of her cabin, with its tangle of lush
greens, its enchanting lights and shades, was of
supreme interest. From its heights and depths
were got together the materials for her " doc-
torin','' and she dosed herself into a bedridden
ghost by the concoctions she made and swallowed ;
but they gave an otherwise empty mind and hands
employment, and whiled away hours that would
have been leaden in their dullness. Her cunning
in their distillation and use had brought her, unso-
licited, the title of " Herb Doctor " among her
There was a narrow, well-worn path running up
the side of the ravine on the Whittaker place, and
across the two or three barren fields. The cabin
stood in an oasis-like spot in the midst of this bar-
renness, a tiny orchard of peach, apple, and wild-
plum trees. Various sheds and log outhouses of
rudest structure, — the handiwork of Zeb, — al-
though out of repair, were clustered about it, and
gave a homelikeness to the dull spot.
50 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
There were evidences that some one took an In-
terest in the humble dwelling; for the two win-
dows of the cabin were clean, and draped with
fresh white curtains of " factory," as they called
white muslin. They were edged with an elaborate
home-made lace knit on needles, and mutely testi-
fied to the imperishable love of adornment in all
of Eve's daughters.
A great bunch of " pineys " stood by the door,
and snowball bushes grew on either side of the
garden gate that led into the lane.
A shallow free-stone well, from which the water
was drawn by a sweep, was near the kitchen door ;
and above it grew two cone-like juniper trees,
which shaded the little milk-house, with the vege-
table pit, like a great grave, near by.
The cabin proper had originally but one room,
perhaps twenty feet square. On one side was a
great chimney of sticks daubed with clay, and op-
posite was a rude partition of wood which did not
reach to the ceiling. The narrow room thus cut
off was Lucetta's special apartment, or, to speak
more exactly, one end of it was hers, for the other
was religiously held as the spare room. Tightly
wedged in each corner was a bed piled high with
feathers ; and in Lucetta's was an old-fashioned
chest of drawers of dark mahogany, the sole relic
of some prosperous ancestor. Both beds were be-
decked with valance and pillows profusely trimmed
with lace, in the knitting of which Mrs. Whittaker
whiled away the long winter days, and a home-
THE WHITTAKERS 51
made blue-and- white counterpane reached to the
valance. These white muslin, lace-trimmed val-
ances were not wholly for ornament, but served to
hide the jars of home-made preserves, honey, dried
corn, and even boxes of clothing, stowed away
under the beds.
The big room was a general sitting-room, and,
though meagerly furnished, was kept neat and
bright. The floor was covered with a gay rag car-
pet. Against the partition, opposite the fireplace,
was Mrs. Whittaker's bed, draj)ed and trimmed
even more elaborately than the others, and in it
she could be found most of the time, for she was
a hopeless invalid, — " hypo " her neighbors ex-
pressed it. There really was some foundation for
her invalid state ; for at the birth of her third
child she had suffered partial paralysis, and had
never fully recovered, as one birth followed another
rapidly. The death of all her children but the
eldest fixed the habit of hypochondria; and she
seldom left the house, her migrations being from
her cushioned rocking-chair in the chimney-corner
to her thick feather-bed. It was amazing that she
had survived her life of inactivity so long, and it
proved that originally she had been blessed with a
strong constitution. In the neighborhood, sympa-
thy for her had long been displaced by contemptu-
In one angle of the sitting-room stood a really
handsome mahogany corner cupboard, which had
been part of Mrs. Whittaker's mother's wedding
52 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
portion, before she had come from Kentucky to the
wilds of Indiana. Through its glass doors could
be seen old green and blue dishes. A great chest
of drawers with glass knobs stood near the window.
The mantel above the fireplace was a rough board
one, but it, too, was draped with a valance in keep-
ing with the bed, and was further adorned by two
tall brass candlesticks with brass snuffers and tray
complete, a moon-faced clock, and a gorgeous pea-
cock tail. There was also a row of suggestive
vials of assorted sizes. Above all this array was
a bracket of the antlers of a deer, — shot by Mrs.
Whittaker's father in the " early day," — which
held Zeb's rifle.
In the winter Lucetta did all the cooking at the
fireplace, but in summer she used a cooking-stove
with a top fashioned like two steps, which was set
up in the " lean-to " kitchen that Zeb, after years
of procrastination, had been prevailed on to build ;
for the Whittakers had lived on this spot for the
twenty years since their marriage. True to the
universal law governing such cases, the poorest
farmer got the poorest farm ; and Zeb was the man
of all men to illustrate this truism. He cultivated
the few fields in the slackest manner. His corn
and wheat were always the last planted and har-
vested in the community. The kitchen garden,
once ploughed, he turned over entirely to the care of
his daughter. As the " lame and the lazy are al-
ways provided for," — a saying Mrs. Bowles sneer-
ingly applied to Zeb, — he managed to ward off
THE WHITTAKERS 53
starvation with the least possible labor. In tbis
life, there seems to be a certain amount of homely
duty apportioned to each person, which, if shirked,
is only added to that of another who is faithful in
the performance of his own share. It does not
follow that because it is evaded by the one, it is not
exacted of another to the uttermost.
Zeb had escaped, as nearly as man can, his share
of the curse of Eden ; he never worked hard enough
to sweat, nor earned enough to keep him in bread.
Not so the women of his household : his wife had
brought forth many children in sorrow, and the
bread he ate was from the sweat of his daughter's
He ploughed and harrowed the fields, only because
the girl was not strong enough, but she followed
patiently in the furrows dropping the corn, which
later she helped hoe, and in autumn gathered and
" shucked." She cut the potatoes and planted
them, and even followed after the sickle and bun-
dled the wheat that Zeb leisurely cut. He had
amazing faith in that Providence which provides
for the idler, and planted only so much of a crop as
woidd serve his needs till the next harvest, never
giving thought to what a year might bring forth in
the way of droughts or floods.
There was, however, a finer side to Zeb's nature,
which showed itself in the exceeding neatness of
his attire of common blue jeans. His going-abroad
coat — of the shad-belly pattern — was a well-fit-
ting one, adorned with bright brass buttons ; his
54 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
trousers were shapely, and never bagged at the
knees. Another of his higher traits was his love
for his fiddle, on which he played with remarkable
taste and feeling for one entirely untutored. With
the sensitiveness of an artist, he shrank from mis-
appreciation and indifference, and was shy of play-
ing on it before people who did not love it as truly
as he. Then, too, he was noted for his skill in or-
namenting rough, home-made wagon beds, — which,
it is needless to say, he had no part in making, —
and was thought to have a nice taste in colors ;
his scrolls and flowers were the wonder and delight
of his neighbors, who sought his services in that
line. Somewhere back in Zeb's ancestral tree had
flourished an artist, whose genius had filtered down
through many generations to this humble scion,
and showed itself paradoxically in bigger brushes
Lucetta had mental and moral qualities — per-
haps owing to a strong hereditary strain dormant
in her parents — which neither her father nor her
mother manifested. She had been forced gradually
to assume responsibilities which were rightly theirs,
thus in some measure reversing the attitudes of
parent and child. Cut off by circumstances from
intimate association with her neighbors, she was
thrown much on her own resources. She would
not accept the meagre hospitality of the community,
because she could not in any way return it. Lack
of companionship created the habit of introspection,
and she became serious, thoughtful, and sedate be-
THE WHITTAKERS 55
yond her years, and keenly alive to tlie marvelous-
ness of common things about her. Her only real
pleasure was drawn from a knowledge of the plants
which grew in the ravine, and of the insects she
fought in the kitchen garden, whose peculiarities
and habits she knew better than those of her
neighbors. She cherished aspirations to be and
do more than her present life promised, but she
kept her own counsel. It was not until the coming
of Miss Abbot, the new teacher, that the first puff
of destiny blew on this spark of ambition smoulder-
ing in her soul, like fire in punk that needs but a
breath to set it aglow.
Such ambition in women is pitiful, since it is so
rarely realized. For conscience throttles it in favor
of a lowly but imperative duty, which neither ele-
vates the performer nor rouses one whit of grati-
tude in those for whom the sacrifice is made, and
by whom it is accepted as a matter of course.
When Miss Abbot came into the neig-hborhood,
chance threw her and Lucetta together, and, not-
withstanding twenty years' disparity in age, a
friendship grew up between them.
It was then the custom in all the district schools
of Indiana for the teacher to act as janitor, or
pay for such service out of his own pocket. Miss
Abbot had been told she might possibly get Zeb
Whittaker to sweep out and build fires at the
school-house, as it was not very far from his cabin.
Zeb declined, but Lucetta offered to do the work
in return for lessons in algebra, history, and gram-
56 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
mar, just after school, three evenings in the week.
Miss Abbot became deeply interested in her, and
Liicetta proved an apt pupil, doing so well that
she hoped by next autumn to be able to secure a
license and herself become a teacher, which was
her cherished ambition. She saw, in the realiza-
tion of her hopes, help and comforts for her sickly
mother which she could not now command. She
had long since ceased to expect anything of the
rightful head of the family, and rarely gave a
thought to his indolence, but took it as a matter of
course ; it was as much a part of his character as
Miss Abbot was a woman of strong character,
sensible, independent, and fearless. She was a
granddaughter of one of the educational pioneers
of the State, who had come out from the East and
founded a college in the heart of the primeval
forest girdling the tiny settlement of Crofton.
She possessed the qualities of her sire, pluck and
perseverance, and was thoroughly well educated.
Like him, she was an abolitionist of the blackest
hue, but though she did not hide the fact, neither
did she boast of it; and, being gifted with tact,
she gave no offense even in Riffle Township, where
such opinions were hotly opposed. She came into
Lucetta's arid life, like a refreshing rain in the
midst of a drought, at the moment of her greatest
Of late, Zeb had been neglecting his work even
more than usual, and it was only by repeated urg-
THE WHITTAKERS 57
ing that Lucetta moved him to break the ground
for corn and for her garden, which provided the
greater part of tbgir food for the summer.
Instead of going to bed at nightfall as formerly,
he left the house soon after supper and returned
very late, and would sullenly evade their question-
ing as to his nocturnal jaunts.
For days after the meeting at Harv Wilson's
cabin, Zeb sat over the fire brooding. He was one
of those nerveless men that collapse mentally and
physically when anything like responsibility falls
upon them. During those hours of self-communion
he was conscience-smitten ; tortured by cowardly
fears, he suffered to the depths of his shallow, fal-
tering soul. But he was not clever enough to see
that he had been the victim in the dealing of the
lot, not inventive enough to evade it, nor energetic
enough to run away. Like the craven he was, he
made the innocent women of his household, igno-
rant of its cause, suffer with him, during the inter-
val between the allotment and fulfillment of his
terrible duty. Members of the " Vestibule " were
the dupes and tools of the three higher orders of
the Knights of the Golden Circle, and were not
taken into confidence further than to make them
useful. The real intentions and purposes of the
higher degrees they never knew. They were in-
timidated by vague threats of vengeance, and pla-
cated by specious promises, to make them faithful
A glimmering of the baseness of his ingratitude
58 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
penetrated Zeb's feeble brain, as the heinousness
of such a crime did not ; for Harv had inspired in
him a fanatical ardor for " the cause," and he was
not capable of more than one impression at a time.
Abner Neal had always been his benefactor, and,
when no one else would, he had accepted him as a
tenant, and times without number had forgiven
him his debt for the rent : he had often furnished
him with the necessaries of life for the sake of his
" women folks," before Lucetta was old enough to
realize the shamefulness of his improvidence and
put an end to it. But Abner Neal was a Union
man, and had incurred the enmity of the order, and
Zeb was to be the instrument of his punishment.
On this particular evening, early in May, Zeb
sat tilted forward on the front legs of his splint-
bottomed chair, huddling over the fire, wherein
smouldered a backlog, now a mass of fleecy gray
ashes that seemed always moving, under which,
whenever a puff of wind blew the ashes aside,
could be seen the heart of fire. He was slowly
cracking each joint of his long bony fingers, the
only thing he ever did industriously, and ruminat-
ing intently. As a rule, Lucetta gave little heed
to his laggard ways, but his pale, blank eyes, in
which vacancy usually dwelt, now had a look of
distress that attracted her notice as he occasionally
lifted them to her face. His nature was not strong
enough to bear his burden alone, and Lucetta felt
from this new expression that he was mutely ask-
ing for help.
THE WHITTAKERS 59
" Pappy," she asked, " what 's the matter ? Are
you ailin' ? "
" Not perticaler, but then I don't feel right
After a pause he asked, " Lucetty, do you know
what ' Arcturus ' is ? "
" Yes, Pappy, Arcturus is the name of a star ; it
means ' The Bear's Guard,' and it 's called that
because it 's near The Great Bear, — a group of
stars, you know, — and guards it. But what a
queer question. Pappy ! "
He ignored her surprise and said : " Means a
guard, does it ? Well, mebby so," shaking his
head doubtfully, " mebby so. But what the devil
does" — and he stopped suddenly, realizing that
he was talking aloud, after the habit of people
"Did the teacher learn you all that, Lucetty?
She knows a heap, don't she ? " he asked, with an
attempt at sprightliness and interest that did not
deceive the girl, nor divert her attention from the
glimpse she had of his trouble, betrayed by this
unusual question. It at once aroused her suspicion,
and made her anxious. Far more intelligent than
he, she was able to deduce reasons and form opinions
with surprising correctness.
The news of the call of the President for more
men, and of the impending draft, had reached her
in the weekly newspaper which Miss Abbot took,
the only one except Abner Neal's that came to the
community. She had heard, too, of the Order of
60 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
the Knights of the Golden Circle, but of their pre-
sence in the township she had not the slightest
suspicion. They had not yet begun that series of
petty crimes and flagrant lawlessness that harassed
the Commonwealth so greatly. Why the prospec-
tive draft should distress her father she could not
understand ; for their township would escape, as
the Union men of both parties had volunteered
and filled its quota.
She watched him warily as she prepared their
early supper, and when he ate sparingly of the
homely meal of cold greens, young onions, corn-
bread, and rhubarb pie, — all favorite dishes with
him, — she was convinced something more than
usual was amiss.
Toward dusk he grew more nervous, and took
his cap off its peg and said : —
" Well, Lucetty, I 've got to go over to the
blacksmith shop — to see about — a " — (he hesi-
tated, his dull wits unused to inventing excuses)
— " to see about mendin' the ploughshare."
Lucetta well knew it was sticking in the furrow
" It seems to me it would do just as well to take
it to him to-morrow, seeing he don't work nights."
Made suspicious through his fears, he regarded
this innocent speech as an intentional sneer.
"That's none o' your business, Lucetty. You
ain't got no right to talk to your pap that-a-way."
He took down his gun and departed, trembling
from his unusual outbreak. He rarely spoke in
THE WHITTAKERS 61
anger to Lucetta, and she wonderingly watched
him taking the short cut across the ravine to the
smithy, which lay half a mile south on the Kidgely
" What ails him, I wonder ? Something 's come
over him, certain."
" He 's just like all men-folkses," observed her
mother in a peevish little voice, from the depths
of her rocking-chair. " When they git a chance,
they 're just as gosterin' and masterful as they can
be. Him a-goin' off that-a-way, and me a feelin'
that bad with such a misery in my stummick ! "
and she moaned in self-pity.
Lucetta, accustomed to such complaints, asked
absently from the doorway : —
" Are you feelin' poorly, mammy ? "
She had great sympathy for her mother, and
believed devoutly in all her aches and pains. She
went quickly to her, when a groan was her only
" Do you want your ginseng bitters, or boneset
tea, mammy? " she asked solicitously.
Mrs. Whittaker had eaten heartily of their heavy
supper, her not infrequent habit, notwithstanding
her invalid state, and, writhing in real pain now,
groaned out : —
" Oh, such a misery ! "
Lucetta hastily hung the kettle on the crane,
and threw chips on the drowsing tire to heat water,
and she soon made ready the simple remedies she
used in such attacks. But they brought no relief,
62 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
all failed now, and Lucetta was really alarmed as
the hours passed and her mother became paler and
more deathly sick.
- When the clock struck eleven, Zeb had not
returned, and Lucetta said : —
" Mammy, I 've done all I can. Do you think
you 'd be afraid to stay alone while I run over
to Rush's to get some one to go for the doctor?
Maybe I '11 have to go on to Ridgely myself, if
Alec ain't home, but I '11 get Mrs. Eush to stay
with you if I do."
Her mother nodded an assent, and the girl
swiftly left the house, tying on her sun-bonnet.
The moon was on the wane, and gave but little light
to brighten her path through the fields.
On reaching Rush's, Lucetta found no men there,
but Mrs. Rush, usually an arrant coward, was
moved to pity by the girl's anxiety, — which from
long habit she thought quite unnecessary, — and
went back with her to stay with her mother, while
Lucetta continued on her errand alone.
"THE LONE star"
LucETTA took the path down the ravine, and,
when she reached the place where her canoe was
tied up, quickly unfastened it and poled off into
mid-stream. In that neighborhood, where the
farms lay along the creek, a very common mode of
travel was by canoes, which were in as constant
use for locomotion as horses. Every family owned
one or more; even the children were skilled in
handling them, a very delicate operation.
Lucetta stood in the middle, tall and straight,
dipping her long paddle deftly and evenly. She
was soon in the strong current, and it swept her
along so rapidly that it took little effort on her
part except to keep off the huge boulders, which
now and then stuck their gray crowns out of the
The stream ran between rolling fields on one
hand and high bluffs, broken at frequent intervals
by ravines, on the other. The bluffs were black
in the shadow of the balsam and pine. The night
was very silent, except for the recurring screech
of an owl, which sounded sadly, or when a frog
shrieked in dismay as it plunged from a boulder
64 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
mid-stream ; and the water swung along with a
deep cadence, like a low-pitched human voice, hush-
ing the finer silvery tones of the spring branches
that emptied into it. None of these night sounds
disturbed Lucetta, for to her they were as familiar
as the voices of friends. The " old moon," hung
in a sky full of cloud-hummocks, was hardly risen
to the treetops ; its light fell feebly, scarcely pier-
cing through them to the shadowed stream. But
Lucetta knew its channel as well in the dark as in
the light, for it was the shortest route to the village?
and she nearly always made use of it. After pad-
dling two miles down-stream, she made a landing
above the riffle, at the ford of the Kidgely road,
to take the path on the edge of the wood, which
led to the village, still a half mile away, where the
As she clambered up the short, steep bank into
the wood, the clouds that had been obscuring the
sky suddenly cleared, and, with head up in the effort
of reaching the summit, she saw a gleam of some-
thing bright in the top of an oak-tree that stood
somewhat apart from the rest of the forest, where
it had been thinned to let in the sunshine along
the edge of a wheat field. At any other time her
curiosity would have been aroused to learn the
cause of that mysterious shining, but now anxiety
swallowed up every other feeling. She took the
foot-path just within the wood, close by the fence
that bounded the field. In the middle of the wood
the night noises reasserted themselves, dispelling
" THE LONE STAR " 65
Ler distress, and filling her with nervous dread of
she knew not what, a dread that swiftly turned to
fear when an appalling cry broke the silence, seem-
ing to come from the black depths beyond her.
The dull seesawing of crickets, the varied croak-
ing of frogs, the shuddering cry of the lich-owl,
have no greater terrors for a country girl than the
homely crow of cocks, which were now telling the
hour from farmstead to farmstead. But this cry,
which seemed that of neither man nor brute, stopped
her blood with a clutch at her heart, and stayed
her feet on the path.
It wailed out weirdly, not loud, but far-reach-
" O— a— k— houn ! "
" What is it ? What is it ? " she whispered,
appealing to that stronger self to which we go for
cheer or courage when our every-day seK is baffled
and discomfited. Some instinct warned her of
danger and suggested hiding. A few yards ahead
of her, in a corner, on both sides of the rail fence,
a tangle of wild-gooseberry bushes grew, on which
the young leaves were just putting forth. As she
stood that instant in the path, holding counsel
with herself, the cry was repeated many times, far
and faint, from all directions. She made her
way swiftly to the clump of bushes, and, creeping
behind this prickly covert into the fence corner,
waited for a revelation, or a return of tranquillity.
The moon was now bright overhead. Its marred
proportions added to the mournfulness of the night,
66 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
and afforded a mild illumination to tlie path and
the trees bordering it, but made the dense shade of
those beyond her seem blacker by contrast.
She was hardly hidden when a man came
quickly and noiselessly down the path in the direc-
tion to which she was bound ; others, from the
creek ; three or four appeared from the gloom of
the wood, until a company of nearly a dozen had
gathered under the great oak where the strange
light glittered. One, who seemed to be the leader
of this mysterious band, shifted his position so that
the moonlight fell on his face, and Lucetta saw
" What can it mean ? Why do they come here
in the night ? " she said to herself.
Then she saw his companions go through singu-
lar motions with hands and arms and feet, and
utter strange gibberish. The words she could not
hear distinctly, but the gestures she coidd easily
follow, especially those of Harv Wilson, who stood
a little apart. He placed the heel of his right foot
in the hollow of the left, and the right hand under
the left arm ; then, changing the position of his
arms, folded them and placed the four fingers of
his left hand on the right arm, and those of the
right hand on the left arm, with serious gravity, in
perfect silence. He was imitated by all present
except one solitary spectator. Then, with a wave
of his arm, Harv dismissed them into the dej^ths of
the woods, except the looker-on. He engaged him
in a pantomime somewhat different. Each took the
"THE LONE STAR" 67
other's right hand In an ordinary grip, and placed
the left hand on the other's breast ; then shifted
the right hand to the other's wrist, and straightened
the thumb out on it. The wind, veering, carried
to her words uttered in Harv's coarse voice, which,
in attempting to subdue, he made more distinct.
" If I go to the east " — he said and paused,
while another voice of finer timbre completed the
sentence, — "I will go to the west. Let there be
no strife " — he, too, abruptly stopped, and Harv
took it up, " between mine and thine — (pause) —
" for we," resumed the other voice, " be brethren,"
with strong emphasis on "be."
" Resistance to tyrants," said Harv, — " is obe-
dience to God," the other man concluded, which
seemed to satisfy Harv, for with that the colloquy
They set out to follow their companions into the
woods, and the miknown man lifted his hat from
his head and wiped his brow with a dark handker-
chief. As he did so, his features were revealed
clearly enough for her to see that they were unfa-
There was a slight twittering in the bushes, as
of birds disturbed in sleep, and all was still. With
amazement and dread Lucetta witnessed this mys-
terious rite under the oak-tree. She had beheld a
dozen men engaged in this ceremony, and had seen
the faces of but two, and, if called upon to do
so, could have identified Harv's only. The others
turned their backs, as if intentionally hiding their
68 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
faces. She had no inkling of the strange scene,
but, knowing well the lawless character of Harv
Wilson, was convinced it boded nothing good. It
was with profound relief she welcomed the silence
that proved them out of hearing, but it was with a
thrill of greater terror that she saw a sturdy, boy-
ish figure rise from the field-side of her ambush,
leap the fence, and noiselessly follow Harv and his
comrades into the darkness.
Lucetta waited a short time, in affrighted sur-
prise, to be certain she was unobserved, then
climbed into the field, to have the fence for a bar-
rier between her and any other mysterious thing
that might cross her path, and crouchingly made
her way to the road, running swiftly.
When she reached the doctor's home she found
he was out, and left word for him, on his return,
to come as quickly as possible. She took no one
into her confidence in regard to her strange experi-
ence, but hastily retraced her steps homeward by
the same wood-path, not without rigors of fear.
She reached the canoe unmolested, and was unloos-
ing it, when she almost shrieked aloud as a voice
called softly : —
" Hold on there ! " and a man came hastily
down the shallow bank from the willows where he
had been under cover.
" Don't be frightened ! Are n't you Lucy ? "
" Yes," she answered sharply, " but you " ? —
" Don't you know my voice ? It 's Frank."
She had not seen Frank since his return on a
"THE LONE STAR" 69
furlough nearly a month ago, except at the church
the day of the violent scene.
"How did you come here at this time of night? "
she asked, her voice vibrating nervously.
" That 's what I 've got to know from you," he
said, by way of reply, as he righted the canoe.
" Step in," he said, almost as if giving a military
command. " It '11 be safer to talk in the canoe.
I 'U paddle her."
Lucetta had not recovered her composure enough
to resist, and mechanically obeyed. Frank him-
self stepped in, and, standing lusty and upright,
pushed off, exerting all his strength against the
opposing current. When they were out of sight
and beyond hearing of any chance loiterer, he said
earnestly : —
" Lucy, do you love your State, and do you care
for the boys in blue ? " He paused an instant, but,
before she could reply, continued : " If you do,
don't speak a word to any one of what you have
seen to-night till I ask you."
" Why shoidd n't I ? " she inquired wonderingly.
" It is of the greatest imjjortance it should n't
be known. There are reasons that I cannot ex-
plain, and if you tell now you 'd be worse than a
traitor. Give me your promise," he demanded
" I promise, Frank."
He paddled strongly against the brawling cur-
rent, impeded by a big boulder, and, when in
smoother water, pulled in to the shore to a dark
70 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
spot under the over-hanging evergreens, and lay to
" Now, Lucy, tell me what brought you out at
such an hour."
She told him, and added urgently, " Oh, Frank,
let us go. Poor mammy needs me."
Frank was as skeptical as every one else in re-
gard to "mammy," and made no reply to her
" I saw you coming down the path," he said,
" and never was more surprised in my life, for I
thought only men were in it. But there 's more
than one woman, I find."
" In what, Frank ? "
" Never you mind. I can't tell you now, Lucy.
I 'm as good as on oath not to. You '11 know
soon enough. Things are coming to pass within
the next two or three months, in this old Hoosier
State, that will surprise you."
With a few sturdy strokes, the canoe was again
in mid-stream, and soon after tied up at its own
MRS. WHITTAKER VINDICATED
For once, Mrs. Whittaker's illness proved to be
real. When Lucetta reached home, she found her
mother attended only by Mrs. Rush. Zeb had not
yet returned from his mysterious absence, but came
shortly, and was stunned into even greater useless-
ness by his wife's serious state. When the doctor
arrived, he found his patient in a condition in
which his ministerings availed nothing, and before
morning Mrs. Whittaker vindicated her claim to
being an invalid by dying.
The news of her death spread about the neigh-
borhood with amazing speed, and, strangely enough,
was a shock to the people, who had been in the
habit of saying, in regard to her ailments, " A
creaking door hangs longest." The women has-
tened to offer their help, which had been so rarely
proffered in her lifetime, and with which Lucetta
would gladly have dispensed. There was an un-
written law against her performing the last offices
for the dead. It was thought imfitting that she
should straighten the lifeless limbs whose staff
and stay she had been so long; should fold the
smooth hands in whose tender care hers had been
72 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
roughened ; should comb the long hair, still so
bright and abundant, which, with daughterly pride,
she had kept tidy and beautiful ; should enrobe
for the last time that paralyzed body she had
dressed for years as faithfully as a mother tends
her babe. None of these services were seemly
now, and Lucetta could not but reflect bitterly on
the display of tardy kindness that had forced her
to yield them into strangers' hands. It was with
pain that she resigned herself to unkind custom to
sit idly apart in her tiny bedroom.
The sound of women's voices, subdued but cheer-
ful, and the clatter of cooking utensils, reached
her there, and Lucetta realized sadly there was no
grief in any heart but her own. She sorrowed for
the dead, not as a child for a mother, but as a
mother over a helpless creature, who, for some phy-
sical or mental lack, is left to her sole cherishing,
after the cruel wont of mankind. From childhood,
Lucetta had assvuned the burdens of that feeble,
complaining mother, and indulged her childish
whims. The strongest interest of the woman's life
was " herb doctorin'," and it was among Lucetta's
greatest pleasures, so pitifully few, to secure mate-
rials for her decoctions. As soon as the sap crept
upward in the spring, she dug the sassafras root,
and later stripped the tender green spicewood
twigs of their bark to make her fragrant teas and
coax a sickly appetite. From the crystal thread
of the stream in the ravine, she gathered sweet,
cool-breathed mints, and she despoiled the boggy
MRS. WHITTAKER VINDICATED 73
places of calamus. She plucked the odorous pen-
nyroyal from under the beeches in the wood, and
hunted in seclnded spots for the rare ginseng;
found " boneset " and sarsaparilla for her bitters ;
dried bunches of catnip and hoarhound; and in
August picked the coral partridge-berries. When
the leaves fell in the autumn, she climbed the
steep sunny side of the ravine to rob the sumach
of its flaming seed-cones, and from its near neigh-
bor, the wahoo, pillaged the pink twin-capsided
berries. She planted herbs in her garden, sage
and thyme, camomile and rue, for her use. These
she garnered for winter and stored in the shallow
loft above the sitting-room, till the cabin reeked
with mingled odors of roots and herbs. All were
beneficent agents which ministered to both mother
and daughter, though in widely different ways.
Lucetta was thus brought into a close, earnest
study of nature ; and a mind so occupied has no
room for sordid thoughts or petty schemings, for
Nature washes its tablets clean with her dews and
showers, and writes on it the story of her mysteri-
Lucetta was so familiar with the haunts and
growth of all these homely simples that in later
years they furnished a sort of humble calendar to
her mother's memory. The lengthening days of
February reminded her of sassafras time ; if she
trod on mint and crushed from it a pungent breath,
her thoughts flew back to those bygone days ; and
so throughout the year to autumn's last offering.
74 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
The day of the funeral fell on Sunday, and was
one of unusual activity for the self-constituted
helpers, who, without realizing it, were making it
a day of recreation. It was a time of universal
leisure ; funeral guests would come from far and
near, and must be fed. In the early morning
hours, bustling sounds reached Lucetta, and brought
with them the mortifying conviction that the neigh-
bors must have brought the provision for the feast
from their own homes. She surmised that the fine
cloth to be used on the table had been borrowed
from "Neal's folks," who were known to possess
the best in the neighborhood.
The women inspected Lucetta's wardrobe, and
openly criticised its paucity and unfitness for the
occasion ; but finally settled among themselves that
her brown delaine would do to wear to the funeral,
if some one would lend her a black shawl and a
hat, for she possessed only a hood and sun-bonnet.
The one was borrowed from Mrs. Rush, the other
from Liddy Ann Collins.
During the dreary funeral services, the women
crowded into the little sitting-room "to see how
the mourners took it," for they had more curi-
osity than sympathy. The men found seats on the
top of the garden fence, and in subdued voices
talked of their spring work, and speculated as
to when the draft would begin, and who would be
the poUing officer in Honey Creek Township, till
the discussion grew so heated they lost sight of the
occasion; the mention of the draft in Riffle or
MRS. WHITTAKER VINDICATED 75
Honey Creek townships was like shaking a red rag
before a bull.
It was a relief to Lucetta's sensitive nature
when the clay effigy of what had been her lifelong
care was laid away forever, — when the feast was
eaten and these unwelcome guests were gone.
Her only comfort had been found in the kind-
ness of Miss Abbot during all these trying hours ;
her after-impression of the time was one of painful
The day following the funeral Lucetta keenly
realized her loss, as she went about the task of re-
storing order to the house. One by one she emp-
tied the bottles of nostrums, — the kettle of bone-
set tea that had been forgotten, the jug of bitters
by the hearth, — and often in imagination heard
the querulous voice calling her to do some needless
errand. She started at the emptiness of the deep,
wooden rocking-chair, as if she saw a shrunken,
ghostly form among its pillows. Her day of servi-
tude was over ; the work of her hands and heart
was taken from her.
But who can measure her debt to that feeble
mother, or know how greatly she was beholden to
her for the development of the virtues of patience
and self-sacrifice, endurance and courage, and for
the self-reliance which was afterward so painfully
tested ? Even her love of knowledge, cramped by
circumstance, sprang into lustier life because of
Lucetta's was one of those minds that seem the
76 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
florescence of a commonplace race. Long denied
the opportunity for improvement and culture, she
had already reached the time when her intellect
demanded more than it could obtain in her present
mode of life. Then fortune sent her the plain,
homely spinster school-teacher. In her Lucetta
found the friend she needed, and for two troubled
winters she had studied with her so faithfully that
she had reached with infinite difficulty the 'heights
of Parnassus where algebra and history dwelt, to
the awe and disapproval of the neighbors. They
regarded such ambition in " weemen " as sinful,
and indulged in spiteful and slighting speeches
concerning her audacious aspirations, while feeling
a secret pride in her success as reflecting credit
on them locally. But Mrs. Bowles had recognized
something different in her from the girls in the
neighborhood, and had said : —
" You need n't talk ! you can't balk Nature !
The girl 's got it in her and it 's bound to come
out, like the measles, or kill her. But where she
gets it from I can't see, with such folks ! It 's like
goin' to a goat's house for wool ! "
On Monday night following the funeral, when
Miss Abbot came to her and asked her to take
her to board, she did a kinder thing even than she
had intended, and took down the first rail in the
" gap " that led Lucetta out from the barren
ground of her old existence into the broad, fertile
fields of the new.
Life is a series of adjustments to varying condi-
MRS. WHITTAKER VINDICATED 77
tions. Lucetta gladly consented, and the next day
the cabinet organ found a place in the living-room,
the schoolmistress was put into possession of the
"spare-room" end of the little long bedroom, and
the new life had begun.
THE POLLING OFFICER
Two days after Mrs. Whittaker's funeral, it was
known the length and breadth of the township that
polling for the draft had begun, in compliance
with the call of the President for 300,000 men. It
had been an inevitable measure, which was required
to fill the places of those whose term of enlistment
had exjiired. In some sections of Indiana, the
spirit of opposition to the draft was so strong that
only a leader was needed to organize the malcon-
tents and encourage them to break into open vio-
lence ; failing which, individuals wreaked it on the
man appointed to the dangerous work of polling.
Nowhere was this spii'it more bitter than in Riffle
and Honey Creek townshiijs, which lay adjacent,
and whose eligible loyal men were already in the
service. Those in authority in the county were
perfectly aware of the fact, and for that reason,
when the officer started on his rounds, very few in
Riffle Township knew who had been selected for
the dangerous mission. In the month he had been
at home, Frank had not sufficiently recovered from
the hardships of Andersonville to rejoin his regi-
ment, and, at his earnest solicitation, he had been
THE POLLING OFFICER 79
given tlie appointment of polling officer for these
two disaffected townships.
When rumors of a draft settled into a certainty,
its opponents throughout the State were roused to
frenzy : secret meetings of the Knights and their
sympathizers were held, and a call was made for a
convention at the capital, ostensibly in the name of
the Democratic party ; in reality, by the Knights of
the Golden Circle. Harv Wilson and Jake Zer-
fus, who had represented respectively the Temples
in Honey Creek and Riffle townships, had not yet
reported the ludicrous outcome of this convention,
which was put to rout in the midst of seditious
utterances, insidious boasts, and malignant threats,
which had been made possible by the acts of a
Supreme Court that had hampered the governor in
every way known to legal chicanery and personal
opposition. Nor had this retired community yet
read of the battle of Pogue's Run, that farcical and
bloodless engagement wherein those Knights, who
had not fled in a panic, surrendered to a company
of volunteers all the arms they had not hidden
in the women's skirts, or thrown into the classic
It was known in every Temple of the State,
however, that their idol, Vallandigham, had been
ignominiously sent through the lines, and that the
secessionists had repudiated him, so that he had
retreated to the protecting soil of Canada, there to
send out his manifestoes as Supreme Commander,
and, there unmolested, to work out his schemes.
80 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
It was a lovely morning in early June, — the
wheat was beginning to head ; the corn, which had
been planted earliest, was already peeping up in
small, sharp blades ; the grass in the fence corners
was so high it would have furnished a snug covert
for little boys playing at hide-and-seek, were such
impious pranks permitted in the fields.
Abner Neal's cornfield, a goodly one of forty
acres, lay beside a wheat-field nearly as large ;
both stretched from the Crofton road almost to the
creek. The Neal home-farm was a tract of three
hundred acres, and the house lay to the northeast
of these fields ; one corner of it was cut across by
the Honey Creek, on which stood the Whittaker
cabin, which could also be seen from this point.
When a canoe could not be used, the people took
to the foot-paths through the fields, which, like the
British yeomanry, they considered as much theirs
as the highway itself, and no one ever questioned
their right to use them. They were left open to
the public, like the English by-paths, by right of
long holding, and many of them were the original
Indian trails. Such a path ran along the border
of the Neal cornfield through the wheat-field to
the house. Of late it was seldom trodden, for
political differences had raised bitter rancor among
neighbors. As the Neals were outspoken Union-
ists, and nearly every one in the vicinity of the
opposite creed politically, they were not visited,
except by a few " War Democrats," who were
hated as renegades, even more than the Unionists,
THE POLLING OFFICER 81
by the third and stronger party, called " Butter-
nuts " or " Copperheads." These last, by reason
of their superior numbers, and the machinations of
such men as Harv Wilson, had grown bold and
insolent, and openly made coarse and malignant
threats. The results of this malevolence were to
bring the small remnant of Union men and War
Democrats into closer affiliation for mutual help
and protection if need be, and the organization of
the Home Guard.
Frank had set out early on his rounds, and found
angry or dispirited groups discussing the polling,
and it was difficult to get names of eligible men
under such conditions.
It was not without serious misgivings that
Frank's parents had seen him begin the work of
enrollment, for they knew the temper of their
neighbors better than he, and dreaded something
worse than insult. He, however, felt no fear, for
he was a daring, reckless fellow, and familiarity
with real danger made him contemptuous of their
threats. He forgot that the foe in ambush is dead-
lier than an open enemy. He trusted to the fact
that he had been reared among them to save him
from personal violence. But in any case he had
resolved to do his whole duty, — a lesson he had
learned on battle-fields, on long marches, and in
It can hardly be said that Frank had been ac-
tuated by the highest patriotism when he had
enlisted the day after his graduation. A whirl of
82 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
excitement had swept over the college, and nearly
depleted it. One of Frank's classmates had raised
a company, and the entire senior class had dis-
tinguished itself on Commencement Day by laying
aside the diploma and taking up the musket.
Frank had gone into the war thinking it a matter
of a few months, as did most raw recruits on both
sides. Vainglorious, self-confident, chafing under
restraint of the authority of his superior officer,
who was his college chum, he longed to burst into
the fray undisciplined by drill, certain of victory,
— forgetting that his foe was of the same blood,
the same mind, the same desires, though not of a
common cause. Long months of discouragement
and defeat had taught him at length a soldier's
duty ; he had learned thoroughly the hardships of
war. With two years' service had come a full
realization of all that the nation had at stake, and
how fierce would be the struggle to save it. En-
thusiasm yielded to a stubborn determination to
conquer or die, — " to fight to the last ditch,"
with that dogged persistence of the Anglo-Saxon
which never lets him know when he is beaten ; a
spirit which prolonged the struggle between the
opposing armies of the same race in the Civil War.
On a gentle slope in the road running beside
Abner Neal's cornfield, three coffee-nut trees tow-
ered like campaniles capped with belfries of flut-
tering greenery, where the oriole swung its nest
and played at bell-ringer, and the rain-crow tolled
its solemn note before a storm. These noble trees
THE POLLING OFFICER 83
had been exiled from the woods, gashed by hollows
and dark with coppice, that skirted the opposite
side of the road. Their feathery tops cast a circle
of shade many feet to the westward, but gave little
shelter to a small group of men gathered there,
talking eagerly together, and with some heat, as
was shown by their disturbed countenances. At
the far end of the cornfield, Abner Neal's farm-
hand, Sam Truax, was starting in on his third fur-
row ; early as it was, he had already crossed the
field and back again. Not far from him stood
Abner Neal himself, leaning over the fence inspect-
ing his wheat, which was heading, and speculating
how soon he would be able to cut it. Both were
within calling distance of the road, but out of sight
of it owing to the rolling nature of the field. Two
or three rods down the furrow would bring Sam to
the top of the rise, and into full view of the men
on the road.
Along this field-path Lucetta was walking, com-
ing from Neal's, where she had gone to return the
table-cloth ; for the neighbors who had taken the
liberty, without consulting her, to borrow many
things to grace the funeral feast, had not been
equally ready to return them. The men under the
coffee-nut trees were Jim Swazey, Mick Gavin
(who owned thirty acres of bottom-land adjoining
Neal's, and the rough wood-lot at hand), and Dan
Cruze, a farmer who lived on Buck Creek. They
were looking down the road, and their backs were
toward Lucetta, so that they were not aware of
84 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
her presence. Nearly the length of the field lay-
between her and Sam Truax and Abner Neal. As
she was about to climb the fence separating her
from the road, she caught sight of a figure coming
toward them, which the men were watching, and
she heard Jim Swazey say vindictively : —
" You 've got to get that book away from him if
you have to kill him. Them 's Harv's orders."
Lucetta dropped into the fence corner and
waited, in a quandary, not knowing what she
" We don't want to do no violence, young fel-
ler," said Cruze to Jim, " but we 've got to have
that book and no mistake."
" I 'm not carin' how you get it, boys," said Jim,
his malignant eyes fastened on the man approach-
ing ; " one damned black abolitionist more sent to
hell don't matter much."
As he spoke he drew a revolver from the inside
pocket of his coat, snapped the trigger suggestively,
and after fitting a cap replaced it half-cocked. By
this time the man was within hailing distance, and
Swazey recognized him. Rankling under the in-
sult at church, he said : —
" By heaven, it 's that damned ' Lincoln dog ' !
If you weaken, I '11 do the job myself."
Lucetta heard this speech plainly, and was
shaken with fear, but not for herself. True to her
long training, the tremor of fright passed, she cast
about for the help which she realized she herself
was powerless to give, and recalled having seen
THE POLLING OFFICER 85
Abner Neal and Sam Truax across the field. The
fence afforded her covert, and she ran half its
length, then crawled on hands and knees down the
furrow below the dip tiU out of sight, when she
sped fleetly over the rough ground and reached
Neal, to whom she gasped out her story. He said
nothing to her, but called to Sam that Frank was
in danger, told him to follow, and rushed to the
rescue. Sam quickly unfastened the chain traces
to loose the plough and sprang on the horse's back,
Lucetta, meantime, explaining the situation.
"I'm a Democrat, but I'll be everlastingly
blasted if I '11 see murder done ! " cried Sam.
Diffffinsf his heels into the horse's sides, and
lashing him with the lines, the next instant he was
racing madly down the furrows, with the chain
traces jangling and showers of earth spurned from
the horse's flying hoofs.
Frank had reached the group by the roadside.
He wore his uniform, and, as he paused, pushed
back his cap to wipe the sweat from his forehead,
still pale and hollow at the temples from his three
Gavin stepped close to him, and without any
preliminary greeting said : —
" We want that book, man, and by the Holy
Saints we 're goin' to have it ! We want it peace-
able loike, ye understhan'. So give ut over, will
Frank made no reply, but squeezed the poll-book
tight under his left arm, and leaned against the
86 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
fence, searching warily for a loose rail ; for he was
without other weapon than the slender stick he
had used for a staff, not thinking it necessary to
arm himself against his own neighbors.
Cruze stepped forward twirling a green oak club
which he had cut for a weapon.
" Yes, we 've got to have it, and if you don't
give it up quietly we '11 take it ! " he said.
Cruze was afraid to seize the book, but still more
afraid not to make some sort of an attempt to ob-
tain it, terrorized by the threats of Harv Wilson,
who, by virtue of his power as Commander of
their Temple, had appointed him to this task.
" I 'm sorry I can't oblige you," said Frank, with
provoking suavity. " It is n't mine, — belongs to
Oliver Perry Morton. Perhaps you've heard of
him? If you haven't, you will. He only lent
it to me for a while, and I 'm expected to return
it in good order, and " — with a change from his
bantering tone, — "I fully intend to do so."
He pressed the book closer and twirled his stick
carelessly as he coolly scanned the three irate faces
before him, with an expression that warned while
it defied them.
The Irishman's countenance expressed admira-
tion for his pluck ; the farmer's, ludicrous helpless-
ness ; and Swazey's, murderous rage.
"Men," said Frank, in a calm, even voice, "if
you get this book it will be from my dead body ! "
There was no bravado in words or manner ; no-
thing but an earnestness that carried conviction.
THE POLLING OFFICER 87
An instant of profound silence followed, during
which, had they given it attention, a jingling sound
could have been heard. Then Swazey, raging like
a mad beast, with fearful oaths, screamed stri-
dently : —
" I '11 have it, or I '11 skin the hide off of you
and hang it on the fence ! "
" Well, sir," said Frank coolly, with simulated
affability, " I 've got that article with me right now,
and I '11 take great pleasure — in shooting you," —
and he paused sufficiently to emphasize his con-
tempt — " in the back ! "
" Holy Mother, there '11 be murther done ! "
screamed the Irishman, as Swazey, goaded and en-
raged beyond endurance, reached for his revolver.
Before he could draw it, there was a frightful crash
and a horse plunged through the fence, scattering
the rails, and the next instant trampling the mur-
derous ruffian under his feet before Sam could
The other two men, fearing arrest, vanished like
spirits into the wood, and were soon lost in the
After Lucetta had made sure of Frank's safety,
she took another way home, that his enemies might
not know of her share in bringing him help.
Tkroughout the remainder of the day, during
the solitary hours which followed, Lucetta, having
recovered from her agitation, thought over the
affair, and wisely resolved to say nothing of the
attempted assault on Frank. She was beginning
to realize that it was an easy matter to become an
object of suspicion and persecution in that locality,
and it was not difficult for her to keejj it a secret,
since she was unused to making confidences. Such
disclosures are largely a matter of habit, and are
the effort of a weak nature to throw off burdens
which a lax mind, like flaccid muscles, refuses to
Lucetta had instinctively kept her thoughts and
aspirations to herself, as a matter of no moment
to her mother, whose interests had centred in her
ailments to the exclusion of everything else ; and
she knew they were above the sympathetic com-
prehension of her father. In this respect she was
one of " the solitary set in families." Suppression
was her lifelong habit, and she now hid in her in-
most heart the feelings of relief and thankfulness
she felt at being able to help Frank, even conceal-
ing from herself the fact that she had been the
instrument to deliver him, perhaps, from great
For the next day or two thereafter, she busied
herself with readjusting her household on the new
footing; and Zeb employed himself in desultory
ploughing in the sterile field.
But on the following Friday her father did not
appear at their early dinner, much to Lucetta's
surprise, for he usually came at that hour as faith-
fully as the clock-hand on the dial. His alacrity
in this matter was equaled only by that of his two
dogs, — Bose, a lank, black hound, and Dandy,
a tyrannizing spaniel, which made the big dog
wretched by petty bickerings that he could not in
honor resent. The situation between these ani-
mals was much like that between a big, patient
man and his small, shrewish wife ; and it was
touching to see the gentle submission of Bose to
the caprices of Dandy, and his gratitude for any
condescending favor from him, as that, for in-
stance, of resigning the " clabber " trough when
he (Dandy) had no appetite for it. On this day
they came in from the field panting from the
exertion of rabbit-coursing, and crestfallen from
having been ordered to the house ; but no master
came with them.
The schoolmistress carried her dinner with her,
as it was too far for her to walk to and from the
schoolhouse at noon. And, moreover, it was an
unwritten law that the teacher should stand sen-
90 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
tinel over her pupils during the nooning ; other-
wise the building might suffer in the riots that
would surely follow in her absence.
At five o'clock Miss Abbot came from school,
while Lucetta was busy getting supper, and before
the meal was ready Zeb, too, came slouching in.
Not a stroke of work had he done that afternoon,
for Lucetta had walked to the top of the field and
had seen the plough standing in the furrow, and
the horse was gone as well as the master.
" Why did n't you come to dinner, pappy ? "
" Had to go to the blacksmith shop," he an-
Then Lucetta knew that he had probably heard
of Frank's trouble, for the shop was the point from
which all the neighborhood gossip disseminated,
and it required more than nine days to wear out
so rich a theme. She waited in some anxiety to
learn if he knew of the part she had taken in it,
but with his usual reticence he told her nothing.
For some time after the meal, he sat over the hot
ashes in the fireplace, — where, from long usage
not yet affected by Mrs. Whittaker's death, a log
still smouldered, — smoking his cob pipe, and puff-
ing the smoke up the wide throat of the chimney.
On his vacant face there was as much distress as
it was capable of expressing, and deep trouble lay
in the murky eyes. Before Lucetta had finished
her evening chores, he took his cap from its peg
and stole away again without excuse.
Lucetta threw a few chips on the fire and tidily
brushed the hearth with a turkey wing, as the last
task for the evenhig. When she turned to hang
the wing up in the chimney-corner, she saw Mrs.
Rush's black shawl, neatly folded, lying on the
chest near by.
" Oh, there 's Mrs. Rush's shawl. I must take
it home to-night. I '11 be too busy to-morrow,
and she '11 need it Sunday, as there 's meeting
at 'Liberty.' Do you want to go, too, Miss
It was a black challis shawl of light weight,
which showed a ghostly pattern of the original
florid design, in spite of its dip into the dye-ket-
tle ; it was considered an indispensable article of
toilet for public occasions, and no matron was ever
seen abroad without one in that neighorhood.
In reply to Lucetta's invitation. Miss Abbot
said : —
" Not to-night, Lucetta. I 've had rather a hard
day in school ; I 'm truly glad it 's out next week.
I '11 sit by the fire for a little while, then I '11 go
The evening was chill from the heavy mist that
rose from the creek, and the cheerful crackle of
the flames and the pungent odor of the sap stewing
from the handful of green chips were pleasant to
this lonely woman, and the homely but tidy cabin
was the most cheerful refuge she had known for
many a day. A restful tarrying by this quiet
hearth seemed a most desirable good, and she
92 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
declined the visit, well knowing Lucetta did not
fear to go alone the short distance between the
Lucetta herself was not sorry to have a solitary-
walk, and she set out by a short cut across the
The sun was just sinking, and as it reached the
horizon it seemed to drop with incredible swiftness
from the rim of the earth, and, even while she
gazed, it shot like a plummet down through un-
knowable spaces, leaving an interval of faltering
light from the afterglow that flickered and faded
into gray twilight, then suddenly gave place to
the darkness of a starlit night. As often happens
after sundown, a wind sprang up, as if speeding
the parting guest, which set the tops of the high
trees in motion, and sent the clouds racing like
white-caps on an overhead sea. Then the stars
went out like candles at a puff of breath, and
before Lucetta reached the field behind the shop it
was quite dark and threatened rain. A heavy gate,
fastened by a hook to the corner of the shop, led
into the road, and the rear of the building served
in place of the missing sections of fence. As
Lucetta paused to lift the hook, she at once
became aware of voices inside the shop ; words
reached her, and of such purport that, when she
had grasped their meaning, she was filled with
" Yes, he '11 be put out of the way to-morrow
night, the damned black abolitionist ! He '11 not
get a chance to do any more of his cursed spying
this side of hell ! "
It was one of those booming bass voices that
cannot be subdued, and it carried far in the still-
ness of the evening. In the reply she recognized
Jim Swazey's tones, but so indistinct was his
speech she could not catch his meaning.
" You don't think the white-livered hound '11
weaken when it comes to the pinch? " asked Jim's
Swazey uttered a cruel laugh, and spoke louder
in his savage excitement.
" He knows he can't. It 's as much as his
hide 's worth. Cuss his worthless carcass ! We 've
had a hell of a time with him anyway ! But
we 've made him understand he 's between the
Devil and the deep sea, with chances in favor of
the Devil." And he concluded with a string of
" 'T would n't be much loss to us, nor gain to
the Old Nick. Why, he 's so infernal lazy he 'd
let a cat pull him away from his own fireplace, and
would n't do nothin'," said the other man, and he
laughed at his own joke, Swazey joining in.
" He '11 do the job ! " declared Swazey. " You
bet ! He '11 have to. There '11 be some there
that '11 see to it. It 's either Abner Neal's life or
his, and he knows it pretty well. I 've had to lay
low ever since the row, and he 's had Gavin and
Cruze both put in jail at Crofton."
Lucetta, screened by the big gate, with infinite
94 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
relief heard them come out and close the door,
and, after a moment's parleying, walk off down
She was aware that the feeling against the war
and the draft was bitter in the neighborhood, and
that the resident abolitionists were hated, but she
did not know the lengths to which the feeling
had gone, — the secret organizations that had been
formed, with their plots for assassination and arson.
She knew of the existence of such societies in other
parts of the State, and in Ohio and Illinois. In
the past week, she had read in the school-teacher's
weekly " Tribune " of the great danger which
threatened the whole State of Indiana, that im-
peached its loyalty and harassed the great war
governor. With a flash of woman's quick intui-
tion, worth in a crisis whole days of slow reasoning,
she put the facts together, and knew that the thing
caUed treason confronted her in the despicable
guise of assassination. What was the measure
of her responsibility ? Could she, without blood-
guiltiness, let the innocent suffer ? Would she not
be an accessory to murder if she did not prevent
it ? But how ?
She waited until the sound of footsteps had
ceased, and during the interval took her resolu-
tion. Her self-dependence and habits of prompti-
tude helped her to decide what was her duty, and,
after she had settled it with her own conscience,
she no more thought of shirking it than of snuffing
out the solitary star that shone amid the clouds
above her. She crossed the road, climbed the gen-
tle ascent to the house, and knocked.
Mrs. Rush opened the door, candle in hand,
raised high above her head. She peered into
Lucetta's face as she gave her the shawl with words
of thanks, and exclaimed boisterously, in her sur-
prise : —
" Why, Lucetty, — whatever possessed you to
bring that shawl home this time o 'night ? It 's
nigh half past eight ! There was n't no sense in
it at all ! "
" I have so much to do to-morrow, I could n't
fetch it then, and I was afraid you might want it
" Come right in and sit down and rest yourself.
I know you 're tired, and you look that pale, and
you're just a-tremblin' from climbin' that hill,"
urged Mrs. Rush, so volubly there was no chance
for Lucetta to interject a refusal. " You do look
bad, now I see you," and Mrs. Rush held the flar-
ing candle in the girl's face. " Come in for a
" No, no ! I must go ; Miss Abbot 's all alone."
"H — u — m — m — ! Your pap ain't home,
mebby?" she asked with that seemingly lifeless
interest that betrays a very vital one, for Mrs.
Rush was both shrewd and suspicious, and " knew
a heap more 'n the men an' ol' Miz Bowles thought
she did," as she had confided to her easy-going
spouse. But she was really kind in her shallow
way, and pitied the girl, whose confidence she
96 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
could never entirely win, a fact which she some-
" No, he is not," Lucetta answered. " Thank
you for all your kindness, Mrs. Eush, and good-
night. I must go now."
"Well, do as you please," said Mrs. Rush
shortly, closing the door as Lucetta turned away.
A HEAKTH-STONE HEROINE
When Lucetta reached home, she found Miss
Abbot in bed in her corner of the little bedroom,
sleeping soundly, worn out by the fatigues of a
day of thankless drudgery. Zeb had come home
again during Lucetta's absence at Mrs. Rush's,
and was sitting in silence before the fire : a silence
which was not, as formerly, like the peaceful rumi-
nation of an ox, but now suggested the dumb mis-
ery of that creature under the cruel goad. He
twisted his fingers till one might have looked for the
bones to snap ; his feeble mouth twitched, and the
loose lips puckered like a child's making ready to
cry. Then he would start up and leave the house,
as if its narrow space fretted him like a cell in a
prison. He had been in this harassed, nervous
state since his wife's death, and Lucetta thought
it only a manifestation of his grief. But now his
trouble, whatever it was, seemed to have reached
a climax. His attitude and the expression of his
pale eyes convinced her he was suffering unbeara-
ble anguish. Her own anxiety made her less sym-
pathetic than usual. She feared his being up at
this hour would prove fatal to the expedition she
98 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
had planned. A groan burst from his lips that
" What is it, pappy ? Are you ailin' ? "
He shook his head in denial, then buried his
face on his folded arms and trembled, imtil she
cried : —
" Why, pappy, you 've got a chill ! "
" No, no, girl ! Let me be, can't ye? " he said
querulously. He could find no relief in expression,
and sat the picture of wretchedness. At last Lu-
cetta in despair went to her own little bed, hoping
that he would soon seek his. But he sat till the
clock struck eleven ; then she heard him lie down
with inarticulate murmurings and stifled moaning.
Almost at once his flaccid nature succumbed to
sleep, worn out with the unwonted stress of feel-
When Lucetta was convinced, by his regular
breathing, that his slumbers were sound, she arose,
though it was near midnight, to carry out her pur-
pose, which was to walk to Crofton and back before
morning, a journey of fourteen miles, in order to
warn the sheriff of the deed that menaced the life
of an innocent man. She had decided it was best
to leave no clue that would involve any one else,
should the matter leak out; walking alone was
the safest way, and she hoped to return before the
household was astir in the morning.
Women are rarely possessed of that form of
courage which finds vent in taking up arms in war
or in savage fighting. They are not ambitious
A HEARTH-STONE HEROINE 99
of martial glory. Now and then, an heroic spirit
adorns the pages of history, possessed of a high
design which leads to martyrdom and wins immor-
But these hearth-stone heroines, — who can num-
ber them ! They sit xmregarded in the ashes, like
Cinderella, yet do their duty as unflinchingly as
the soldier at the front, without his hope of glori-
ous reward. There was as vast an army of them
at home during the terrible years of the Civil War
as of men in the field. Their blood did not flow
hot as on the fields of victory, nor grow sluggish in
defeat, but fled back to the heart in the anguish
of utter loss. Or it was drained slowly from over-
tasked bodies by ministrations in hospitals and on
battle-fields after the combat, or wasted away in
a roimd of double duties at home. How hard it
was to bear their part was revealed in the blanched
cheeks, the ashy lips, the hair whitened before its
time, the eyes burning with the fires of anxiety
or dulled by floods of unavailing tears, of those
who waited and watched beside the hearth-stone.
Action, fierce and terrible, is not so deadly as this
Many of these women were exalted far above
the ties of kinship when it came to a question of
duty that might involve the sacrifice of the liberty
or even the life of a brother, father, or husband
for the good of the nation. This lonely spot in
Indiana held a few such spirits, in whom burned
the sacred fire of patriotism, — women so himible
100 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
that opportunity rarely drew aside the curtain from
the shrine and let it shine out in the sight of men.
Yet how faithfully they used these occasions, how
unfalteringly they decided when one or many must
suffer, even if that decision but lay between them
and their own conscience !
Without a moment's hesitation at the thought
of whom it might implicate, even though it be her
own father, Lucetta quietly made her preparations
for the long, solitary walk. It were better the
designs of the conspirators were frustrated than
that murder should be committed, that the assassin,
whoever he proved to be, should be held a prisoner
in Crofton jail, than that Abner Neal, their neigh-
bor, friend, and benefactor, their stay in poverty
and sickness, should be his victim, when Providence
had put it into her power alone to prevent it.
She made ready so quietly that Miss Abbot did
not stir, and slipped into the sitting-room, raised
the wooden latch to the outer door, pushed the
latch-string through, so that she could reenter with-
out disturbing them, and took the lane to the road,
which was as familiar to her as the ravine path,
and which, three miles further on, entered the Crof-
ton turnpike. On either hand lay thick woods
broken by a few fields. From them came sounds
of night life, which gave her no disquiet ; she felt
no fear but that her mission might fail through
some untoward circumstance. She walked rapidly,
for she knew the return could be made more slowly.
"When she had traveled two thirds of this by-road,
A HEAKTH-STONE HEROINE 101
another sound, mingling with that of the night
insects, filled her with wild alarm. The wind had
risen and a pasping shower fell, but neither wind
nor rain roused that grisly terror which almost
held her feet in their tracks. It was that direful
cry that came, faintly but distinctly, from far and
near : —
" O — a — k — houn ! O — a — k — houn ! O — a — k
— houn ! "
Invisible things seemed closing about her like
a pack of wolves. She took refuge in the woods,
and, although her feet felt as though they were
shod with lead, made such progress that before she
reached the turnpike the ominous sounds were left
behind. On the highway a new dread seized her,
— that of meeting a chance traveler who might
seek to detain her or offer her insult. Once, dis-
concerted by the rattle of wheels, she hid till
a farm-wagon passed on. The wind lashed her
clothing and twisted it around her body, impeding
her steps, and, when it quieted, a drizzling shower
set in that saturated her garments, but her purpose
never faltered. Her heart lightened when, after
hours as it seemed to her, she saw afar the lights
that twinkled around the court-house clock, and
her steps quickened, for the perilous part of her
journey was done.
She soon reached the jail. It was an old-fash-
ioned, two-story brick house, with a spacious hall
in the middle and a long ell at the rear, and it
stood on a corner at the intersection of two streets.
102 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
The part that was exposed on two sides was used
as a residence for the sheriff, — who also acted
as jailer, — and the other was the prison proper.
The building was but two rooms deep, the rear of
which was divided into small cells for refractory-
prisoners ; the front one was a general assembly
room, where they ate their meals and stayed dur-
ing the day, and, when they were few, slept at
night. All the windows on this side of the house
were barred and crisscrossed with rods of iron.
The house had a sandstone foundation, and it
would have been an easy matter to remove one of
those big blocks for the escape of prisoners. The
hall door was an ordinary one of oak, but those
opening into the prisoners' cells were of iron. As
a prison, the building was far from secure in the
best of times, and, now that it held as inmates Jeff
Riddle, the deserter, and the men who had inter-
fered with the polling in Eiffle Township, await-
ing orders from Indianapolis, it was guarded day
and night. That very morning, Jeff's affection-
ate grand-aunt, Mrs. Bowles, had paid him a visit.
She had looked at him through the bars, and he,
expecting sympathy, wore a befitting expression of
countenance, when she burst out fiercely : —
" Jeff Riddle, you 're the first of the name that
ever looked through the bars. And hangin' 's too
good for you for 'listin' at all. You always was a
born fool ! And you 're a disgrace to your blood
Jeff, crestfallen, had turned away from the grat-
A HEARTH-STONE HEROINE 103
ing, while the woman stalked off without another
word to anybody, to the great amusement of the
Lucetta rapped softly at the hall door, and at
once heard a window raised gently, and a voice
asking softly : —
" Is that you, Billy ? Are the boys coming ?
We 're ready for 'em."
It was too dark to see the face of the speaker,
who grew angry and swore under his breath when
she made no reply.
" You don't mean to say the white-livered hounds
have failed us ? "
The girl suspected that some enterprise of a
serious nature was on foot, and knocked again
loudly. A voice within asked : —
" A friend," she answered.
" Damn it, can't you tell your name ? " said the
" No ; please don't ask it."
" Are you alone ? "
The man opened the door a narrow space, and,
seeing a dim outline, reached forth a brawny hand,
drew her inside before she realized it, and quickly
shut and made all fast again. He then opened the
slide of the dark lantern, and threw a flood of light
on his prisoner.
" By heaven, it 's a girl ! " he exclaimed. In-
stantly a dozen men closed about them. Surprise
104 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
and anxiety were depicted on their faces, but nei-
ther unkindness nor hostility.
Now the suspense was relieved, Lucetta sank on
the lower steps of the stairway, and faltered out to
the man who had just released her : —
"You are Sheriff Hale?"
" I have come to warn you that Saturday night
is set for a plot against Abner Neal. I think
they 're going to kill him."
" How do you know this, girl ? "
" I overheard Jim Swazey, Alec Rush's hand,
talking to some one about it in the blacksmith's
shop at dusk this evening, on my way to take home
Mrs. Rush's shawl," she explained, with that mi-
nute attention to trifling detail common in rural
folk ; and then she told what she had heard, as
nearly as she could remember it.
A man in the group whispered to the sheriff : —
" It 's Lucetta Whittaker."
" Zeb's girl ? " asked the sheriff, in the same low
" You did n't hear the name of the man who was
going to do it?" asked the sheriff, turning to Lu-
" No, they mentioned no names."
" Well, little girl, you 've done your duty," said
the sheriff kindly. " Now you need rest and must
go to bed. You 're not afraid to stay all night
in the jail, I reckon? — a girl like you," seeing a
troubled look on the girl's face.
A HEARTH-STONE HEROINE 105
" No, I must go home," she said firmly. " No
one must know I came."
" She 's right, Sheriff," said one of the men.
" She might rest an hour."
There was the snapping of a watch-lid, and a
finer, smaller hand than that of the sheriff held a
gold watch in the glare of the bull's-eye.
"Can't be done," said the man who held it.
" It 's time now ; five minutes of two."
There was a subdued shufiling of feet and the
rinoqnoj sound of metal. The sheriff said excit-
edly : —
" By heaven, we 've not three minutes to get her
off. Where 's Jerry ? He might take her home
Jerry was " riding bailiff," and when they looked
around for him he could not be found.
" He 's off to warn 'em," cried one voice.
"He was here when the girl came in," said
The men looked at each other astounded, for
Jerry had been a participant in their plans ; and on
the dismayed silence that followed, a metallic soimd
broke dully twice.
"By heaven, they're at it! To your places,
boys ! " was the low command of the sheriff.
" We '11 not parley with them except with lead."
Each man was instantly at his post beside the
windows, that were shielded by heavy wooden shut-
ters, which they opened a span. In the excite-
ment, the girl was forgotten. She climbed to the
106 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
upper landing on the stairway and sat down, with
a vague idea of being out of the way. The next
moment a volley rang from the revolvers of the
men within, and was instantly returned from with-
out. Not a sound came from those on the defense
but the click of revolvers. From without came a
rush of feet ; that was a signal for a second volley
from the jail. One loud cry followed, which Lu-
cetta knew was a cry of pain, then all was silence
The girl sat undismayed. At first she had ex-
perienced that horror of blood-shedding a woman
always feels, but excitement dispelled it. And
when shot after shot rang out, she felt so urgent a
desire to join the fray she could hardly remain
seated. The spirit of a pioneer grand-dame who
had shot at Indians through the crevices of her
cabin stirred within her, as it does on occasion in
every American woman who has sprung from such
The fight was over as suddenly as it had begun.
The sheriff opened the hall door to reconnoitre
cautiously, when he was hailed from without.
" All right here ! The enemy has retreated in
quick order ! " and a laugh followed.
" Is that you. Gore? " demanded the sheriff.
" Yes. Fetch a light, and let 's look after the
wounded. Somebody was hurt."
A kerosene lamp in the hall was hastily sought
by some one, while the others went out of doors
with the sheriff, and soon Lucetta saw them bring
A HEARTH-STONE HEROINE 107
in tlie limp body of a man, which they carried into
Hale's part of the house. A squad of armed men
of the Home Guard followed. She peered over
the banister at the men below and asked : —
"Is he dead?"
The sheriff, lamp in hand, was going in search
of water and bandages, when the voice from above
startled him into nearly dropping it.
" Good Lord, girl, I 'd clean forgot you ! No,
be is n't much hurt, — fainted from loss of blood."
Lucetta descended the steps firmly, and, when
he raised the light above his head to look at her,
he said : —
" Well, you are a plucky one ! Not a bit scared
in a battle. In the dark all by yourself, too ! I 'm
awful sorry," he added regretfully.
" Now I '11 go. I must start right away, or I
can't reach home in time," was the only response
Sheriff Hale was as large of heart as he was of
stature, and as gentle as he was brave ; moreover,
he had five little girls of his own that he had lifted,
sleeping, from their beds and carried to the neigh-
bors, out of harm's way, early in the evening ; he
had also sent away his wife when certain that a
raid on the jail would be made that night ; and he
was painfully reluctant to let Lucetta go home
" I wish you would go upstairs to bed. The
danger 's over for to-night. The delivery was a
failure. But I won't keep you if you think it
wiser to go."
108 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
One of the men, who had been listening, stepped
forward and said : —
" I '11 go with her, Hale, as far as the dirt road.
There won't be any danger after she leaves the
pike. The Knights don't know me here."
" He 's aU right," said Hale to Lucetta. " Go
with him, for I can't think of letting you go alone.
The town 's roused."
She consented, and the hall door was opened to
let them pass out. A great crowd had gathered in
the street, and people were running toward it from
every direction. In the press, they left the town
Lucetta and her companion walked the entire
distance to the point agreed on without exchang-
ing a dozen words, and as he left her there he
said : —
" I know you, Lucetta Whittaker, and some time
my life may be in peril ; I may need a woman's
help. If it should be so, I now know where to find
one in whose bravery and loyalty I can trust."
" I do not know you, sir, but I will help you if
ever I can," and they parted at the road that led
As Lucetta proceeded rapidly on her way, she
seemed the only being alive, another Eve in an-
other Eden, alone. By this time, night was going,
and an owl was making a fretful plaint at its
brevity. An early morning breeze sprang up, cool
and damp, from the woods on Honey Creek, bring-
ino; with it an odor befittinof the air of Paradise, so
A HEARTH-STONE HEROINE 109
heavenly sweet, for the wild grapes flung abroad
their morning incense to the rising sun. A pheas-
ant drummed a reveille from its post on the hill-
side ; a bittern boomed among the sedges and
awoke mournful echoes ; the cocks sent trumpet-
ings from farmstead to farmstead, announcing the
dawning, like heralds before a royal procession.
These sounds were all significant to Lucetta, and
she scanned the eastern sky, which was as familiar
a map to her as the printed ones in the geography.
She knew by the argent shimmer on the mass of
low, thin clouds on the horizon, that the hour was
near, the most beautiful and least familiar of the
day, the hour of dawn, which is as lingering in its
coming as twilight of evening in its going, but in
which there is an awesomeness which the falling
of night does not inspire. She watched the swift
scattering of clouds as they fled before the morning
wind, like a crowd before the advance guard of a
monarch, and saw the horizon stained by a tremu-
lous pink. At this moment, as if watching for a
signal, a lark rose from the meadow before the
cabin, which she had now reached, and sang with
glorious energy the few rare notes of its thrilling
song. It seemed the prelude of the morning choir,
for, as if in response, a redbird trilled from a
thicket in the creek bottom, a catbird mewed in
the grapevines, and a robin warbled a homely
ditty from the garden fence, while a malicious jay
screamed from the swaying bough of an apple-tree
in the dooryard.
110 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
All these things — the ecstasy of Nature at the
return of day — Lueetta noted with delight, and
when she reached the cabin the sun came up with
a burst as she pulled the latch-string of the silent
After a hard day's ploughing, Abner Neal and
his hands were glad enough to go to bed at night-
fall, and nine o'clock saw the entire household
asleep. There was one duty he never neglected
before he slept, no matter how great his fatigue :
he saw that his double-barreled shotgun was loaded
and capped ready for instant use. No loyal man
of either party was without arms in that troubled
time, when insurrection was at the very door.
There is nothing like twelve hours' work in the
open air to induce sound slumber. It is Nature's
daily renewal of man's powers, to mark her higher
esteem of him, which she grants but yearly to her
lower plant-life. How generously she rewards his
puniest efforts in return for dressing her broad
bosom with the varied greenery of wheat and oats,
barley and rye, corn and clover, whose exquisite
color-tones in growth delight his eye, and in the
harvest fill his granaries ! The soft dews of morn-
ing are for the refreshing, the rain for revivifying,
the sunshine for ripening all these common things,
that the fruits of his toil may benefit him. Even
the wonderful prodigality of vegetation and over-
112 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
abundance of seed are for his welfare, that he may
never come to want through his own amazing
wastefulness and passion for destroying. He, of
all Nature's creatures, is the only one capable of
perfect gratitude, yet is most ungrateful. His
murmurings began with the primal sacrifice of the
firstfruits of the field and the firstlings of the
Abner Neal was, on the whole, one of the best
men of his class. He took his blessings with be-
coming thankfulness, and patiently accepted his
calamities. A strain of Irish blood helped him to
throw off trouble, and rally quickly from defeat.
The blessings of rest had fallen on his house,
and their slumbers were as profound as those of
the fabled Seven Sleepers. The rising wind did
not disturb them; nor did the sound of wheels
rouse them, although it ceased within their own
barnyard, scarcely a hundred yards from the
An oilcloth-covered conveyance, known as a
" spring-wagon," was driven as cautiously as might
be under the open shed where vehicles were kept.
The driver quickly unloosed the traces, but, without
removing the harness from the horses, tied them
in a corner. Nine men had alighted from the
wagon, not without some clatter, for each was
well armed. In silence they dispersed into the
gloom of the barn and were lost in its shadows.
It was so warily done, not even the house-dog was
THE BARN-BURNING 113
When all were safely stowed, one man asked
another nearest him : —
" Don't you thirk we 'd better wake Abner ? "
" No ; Frank said not to, as the old man can't
do much, and it would scare the women. We may
be able to manage this quietly."
" Frank ought to be here soon, anyway," said
There was the scratch of a match and a sputter,
and the man held the light to the face of a watch
hidden in his hat crown, that no stray beam might
" It 's half past eleven," he announced. " Frank
said he 'd be here by that time."
He paused, and a voice answered quietly : —
" And he is."
" Good ! Which direction do you expect the
" From the southwest ; that 's the nearest way
for them to come. We have the advantage of
them, and are ready for them, thanks to our friends
here." And he laid his hand on the shoulder of
the taller and slighter of the two men.
" To me ? not much ! Why, don't you know " —
" Too loud, boys," cautioned the big man, who
seemed to be in authority. They were quiet for
half an hour, when Frank coidd contain himself
" They 've got scent of us, I 'm afraid. Harv 's
got spies every place, even in the jail. Eh, Hale ? "
As he spoke the last words, a rail fell out of place
114 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
from the fence back of the barn, as indicated by
the sound, some yards away. A quickly smothered
curse followed the noise, and Frank, who was peep-
ing through a crack into the darkness, could dimly
see a figure skulking toward the sodden straw-
stacks which stood farther down the yard. The
men within the shed watched for others to follow,
but no one came.
"They seem to have weakened," whispered
Frank. " There 's only one of 'em."
" Hush ! the rest may be hidden in the fence
corners on the field-side."
As they watched, a crash as of breaking glass
followed, and a flame instantly shot up the side of
the stack, that soon made it a veritable pillar of
fire. A shrill voice screamed : —
" To hell with old Abe Lincoln and all the Lin-
coln dogs! " and the creature gamboled grotesquely
about the roaring stack. He flung up his arms
in wild gestures, uttered fearful imprecations as
a second one became enkindled, then broke into
shrieks of hysteric laughter that ended abruptly
in awful silence.
" It 's brighter than Arcturus ! Fire can burn
out blood-stains ! The blood of my friend ! the
blood of my friend ! The lot ! the lot ! It fell my
lot ! " he chanted weirdly, then screamed in ecstasy
and capered more wildly as the fire mounted higher.
The fit passed, and his voice fell into its accustomed
mildness, and he said with rational decision : —
" It 's like hell-fire ! "
THE BARN-BURNING 115
Then, with sudden fury, he cried : —
"Let 'em burn, burn, burn to everlastin', and
I '11 burn with 'em ! "
With a leap he plunged into the raging flames.
Then, with a fearful shriek, a woman flung herself
over the fence and ran to the maniac's rescue, and
she, too, would have been swallowed in this fiery
furnace, had not Frank rushed down on her and
held her back.
" Oh, it 's pappy ! it 's pappy ! " she screamed
distractedly, and fell at Frank's feet, where she
groveled as in a fit.
The men in the barn stood awestruck, bereft of
all their senses but that of sight, with jaws dropped
and arms rigid, useless, and heavy as leaden images,
as if under the bewitchment of Zeb's incantations,
till the cry of the girl broke the spell ; when they
ran to the stacks, too late to save the man from his
As they burst into the glare of the fire, there
was a rustle in the fence corners, and half a dozen
men fled across the wheat-field and were lost in
the woods beyond, but some of the sheriff's men
were collected enough to send a volley crashing
They dragged the man from the flames, scorched
and suffocated, but still breathing feebly, and all
interest was centred on the frenzied wretch writh-
ing in the throes of self-inflicted torture, who
gasped agonizingly for the breath his seared lungs
refused to take.
116 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
By this time the household was aroused and in
commotion. Abner Neal and his men hurried out
half clothed, followed by the women. They were
all cool and collected, for they had lived for months
under the menace of arson and murder, and were
therefore not unprepared for this crisis, which was
in a measure a relief from wearing suspense.
When Abner Neal saw that it was Zeb lying
there on the ground, contempt drove pity from his
" That fellow ! " he cried. " I 've almost given
him the bread he 's eaten for years for the sake of
his women folks. God knows he never earned it.
And I 've kept the roof over his head."
" Oh, it 's all true, it 's all true, but I did what
I could. Frank knows ! " moaned Lucetta.
Sheriff Hale went up to the angry, outraged old
man, and spoke to him in a low voice, but Abner
was not to be appeased.
" The fellow 's done for. His punishment 's
greater than any the law could give him, God
knows. For decency's and humanity's sake, let us
take him into the house," urged the kind sheriff.
" Take the viper into my house ! A fellow that
would murder me in my bed ! No, take him to
" At least, get us something to soothe his pain,
some flour, and oil, and bandages," pleaded the
sheriff. But the old man still refused.
Frank said, " Don't be so hard, father ; you for-
get," sinking his voice lower. " Lucetta can hear
you. Mother, you at least will be kinder."
THE BARN-BURNING 117
But Mrs. Neal had neither kindly words nor
looks of pity for Zeb's daughter, although human-
ity prompted her to fetch such simple palliatives
as they had at hand.
Sheriff Hale went to Lucetta, who still sat on
the ground, wretched beyond the power of words
or motion, with her face buried in her hands.
Even the harsh duties of his office could not
change the benignant clemency of his nature, — a
gentle quality frequently the gift of men of large
physique and calm, even temperament, who are too
slow to stab with sarcastic wit, and too strong will-
fully to pain the weak. Fate selects them for en-
terprises where endurance and patience are needed,
and for troubled womankind to trust.
He raised the girl to her feet, supported her in
his arms, and soothed her with kind words. He
was the only person there who entered into her feel-
ings, and sympathized fully with her misery and
f riendlessness ; he alone realized that her mental
torture was greater than Zeb's physical agony, and
he wished to spare her the added pain of the hard
words which fell from the lips of those about them.
He motioned to Frank, who came to his side.
"Take the girl away, Frank, into the house,"
he said. " It 's all too much for her."
Frank beckoned to his aid a slender young man,
and between them they supported her to the house,
tearless and despairing, and so exhausted she could
Mrs. Neal returned with her stores, and the men
118 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
stripped Zeb of his smoking tatters, and applied
oil and flour, and wrapped him in a sheet. They
took a door from its hinges, and on this improvised
stretcher they carried the pain-stricken wretch to
the house of the man whom he had been appointed
Frank had laid Lucetta down on a lounge in the
sitting-room. He could not comfort her, for she
seemed beyond the reach of words, and he unable
to call up any.
"Oh, will they hang poor pappy?" she asked
distractedly over and over. " He did n't plot it
of his own will. He could n't do it. It was the
lot ; he said it was the lot."
She clung to Frank's hand in the intensity of
her despair, and implored him with pain-widened
eyes for comfort. Then, when she realized that it
was his father whom hers would have murdered,
she shrank back into the pillow, and moaned in
bitterness of soul : —
"Oh, he would have killed your father! Let
me go away out of this house. What right have
She attempted to rise, but he gently detained her.
" Try to be quiet, Lucetta, so you can tell me
all about it. We must know, so the others may
be brought to justice. It is your duty to your
father." His appeal was not guileless. He knew
of her exaggerated idea of duty. "He was the
tool of the Knights, was n't he ? "
" I think so, but I don't know. He has been so
THE BARN-BURNING 119
strange lately, but I thought it was on account of
mammy. To-day he acted so worried, and, as night
came, seemed like a crazy man. Knowing what I
did, I was afraid ; and when he left the house so
late, after he thought we were asleep, I got up and
followed him. Oh, I was afraid, but God knows
I did n't expect this ! Oh, please take me home
now, and I '11 tell you all I know to-morrow."
As she spoke, the bearers brought Zeb in, and
when she saw him wrapped in a sheet she rose to
a sitting position, and asked quietly : —
" Is he dead ? "
Sheriff Hale stepped to her side and said : —
" No, my child, but there 's no hope for him.
He '11 die before morning."
A look of relief crossed her face, which was fol-
lowed by a fit of terrible weeping.
" Don't take on so, child," said the tender-hearted
sheriff. " It 's a God's mercy he '11 be taken, for
he was clean crazy."
But he realized it was the other and far more
terrible punishment that the girl had dreaded.
They laid the body on the lounge from which
Lucetta had risen, and after a time Zeb's moaning
ceased, lulled by the homely applications they had
made. Some one came in from the village and
said the doctor was out. Zeb lay apparently life-
less, but when he heard the doctor's name he
roused, as if some distracted chord of his memory
had been struck ; and he looked at Lucetta, who
was kneeling at his side, and said f alter ingly : — j
120 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
"I didn't want to do it."
" Why did you, then ? " asked the sheriff.
" Arcturus is my star, and it led me on."
" What do you mean ? "
" Well, Harv said so. I don't know. I did n't
throw the fire ; it fell from Arcturus. It 's like
hell-fire. Oh, it burns ! it burns ! "
" He 's as crazy as a loon," whispered the sheriff
to the tall, slender man by his side. " What 's to
be done with him ? "
" Nothing. Look ! "
The sheriff turned toward Zeb, and saw a change
pass over his face, like a film over the cold surface
of a mirror, and he beckoned his men from the
The barns and bridges and every available space
witbin a radius of five miles around Eidgely were
blazing witb gorgeous red, wbite, and blue posters
announcing the Fourth of July barbecue. It fell
on Saturday, which, from time immemorial, has
been a sort of holiday among country folk, an au-
spicious coincidence which promised " a big time."
The barbecue was to be held in Bolser's woods,
a mile from the village, and all the young people
turned out, without regard to political bias. The
draft, for some unknown reason, had not occurred
at the expected time, but was in abeyance, and
caused disquiet that broke into seditious mutter-
ings and threats of violence. Many of the wiser,
older people of both parties resolved to stay away
from this gathering, which, on former occasions,
had been merely a social affair, for now it was
prophesied that a disturbance of some sort would
occur. Of late, secret meetings had been held
with greater frequency, and they feared the agita-
tors would use the opportunity to further their own
ends; for their influence was becoming felt, and
had spread like contagion over the country, until
nearly every township had its branch Temple.
122 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
The War Democrats and Republicans had hitherto
considered these meetings as of little consequence.
The tragedy at Neal's had been a fearful shock,
and had opened their eyes to the mischievous if
not downright criminal intentions of the Copper-
heads. It seemed the policy of the governor, who
kept thoroughly informed of their movements, to
ignore much of their incipfent lawlessness, and to
deal as leniently with the actual transgressors as
possible ; and in the end it proved a wise course.
By reason of this judicious policy, the men who
had assaulted Frank, after having been turned
over to the proper legal authorities, were released
on bail ; and Jeff Riddle, who had been sentenced
to death, had been pardoned by the President
through the influence of his loyal kinsmen, and
had returned to the army a wiser man. No effort
had been made, apparently, to find Zeb's accom-
plices, if he had any ; many thought his deed the
work of an overwrought brain, crazed by grief and
Frank, for some mysterious reason, had not re-
joined his regiment, although his health was fully
recovered. He came and went on seemingly pur-
poseless errands, which caused not a little comment
and sagacious inferences on the part of the " But-
ternuts." He still wore his uniform, which he
knew became him well, and he was aware that the
girls liked him all the better for wearing it. He
had acquired the soldier swagger, and his cap had
a rakish habit of getting on one side of his head,
THE RIVALS 123
which was covered with thick, crisp, light brown
hair. His dark-blue eyes, rather bold in expres-
sion, straight muscular figure, made him an ideal
man-of-arms, and the maidens thereabouts were
quick to appreciate him, for their woman's admira-
tion for a soldier was stronger than their political
bias. Therefore, when the news went abroad in
the neighborhood that Frank had bought a new
single buggy, it set them anxiously speculating as
to what girl he would honor with an invitation to
occupy the vacant seat beside him, and go with him
to the barbecue. Frank had never "kept com-
pany " especially with any one, but had bestowed
his attentions impartially on all, perfectly aware
how much they were valued. What wonder, then,
that he took his own time to make his selection, and
waited till the day before the great event to do so ;
unlike the other young fellows, who thought it was
necessary to " engage their company " at least a
fortnight before. He knew any girl of them would
throw her accepted swain over for the pleasure of
going with him. It is not surprising that he grew
conceited and somewhat cavalier in his treatment
of them, and indulged in a good deal of figurative
handkerchief-dropping. His four years in college
had modified his opinions of girls somewhat, and
these country belles were no longer quite to his
Frank's complacency was destined to receive a
shock. He had made his choice undisturbed by
a doubt of possible refusal, and it had fallen on
124 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
Lucetta Whittaker. Why he was moved to ask
her he could not tell, — pity perhaps. Ever since
Zeb's death, now three weeks past, he had heard
nothing at home but bitter censure of the Whitta-
kers. He had not spoken of his decision to his
father or mother, who he knew had no intention
of going, and it rather tickled his sense of impor-
tance when he thought of the storm it would raise
if they foimd it out. All that remained now for
him to do was to invite Lucetta, and, with this laud-
able object in view, on Friday evening he hitched
his spirited chestnut mare to his new buggy and
set out for the Whittaker cabin.
Since her father's death, Lucetta had remained
in her humble dwelling with the schoolmistress,
for she had nowhere else to go. Moreover, most
of the neighbors were too poor, especially in those
hard times, to receive her in their homes, even if
she would have consented to live with them. She
managed to subsist off the garden and the money
Miss Abbot paid her, and she earned a little by
sewing for the neighbors and helping at harvest
dinners. But she was not strong enough to labor
at actual field-work with the energy required, and
as many women were compelled to do, owing to
the scarcity of men from enlistment.
To the conventional-minded, attending a place
of amusement so soon after a double bereavement
seems indecent, but here formal usages were not
regarded. We are largely governed by custom,
even in the matter of our most sacred griefs. In
THE RIVALS 125
this locality, at the visitation of death no change
took place in the habits of life ; the outward badge
of mourning was rarely worn ; but possibly the
grief was as sincere and the sense of loss as great
as if all the niceties of polite society had been ob-
For these reasons, therefore, it would not have
been indecorous had Lucetta chosen to go to the
barbecue, but her recluse habit made her reluctant
to mingle with large crowds. She feared that this
meeting would end violently. The community had
now reached a climax of feeling, in regard to the
conduct of the war, the draft, and the recent out-
rages of the Knights, so strong that distinct lines
had been drawn between the party then universally
called Butternuts on the one side, and Republicans
and War Democrats on the other ; and friendly
affiliation, even on such an occasion, had become
all but impossible.
Frank drove through the lane and drew up be-
fore the door with a flourish. The two dogs, Bose
and Dandy, added to the glory of his arrival with
joyous yelps, as if announcing a hero. Having tied
his horse to the fence, he walked to the open door
and called out a good-day to Lucetta, who sat sew-
ing just within. Stooping instinctively, he entered
the room, to find, to his disgust, Jim Swazey sitting
near the window, silently seesawing on the hind
legs of his chair, sullen and chagrined. Instantly
the two men assumed a different air, ruffling like
cocks making ready for the onset. Jim's handsome,
126 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
swarthy face mustered a bullying frown ; Frank's
blue eyes flashed the contempt he felt, and a curt
nod passed between them. Each was conscious
they were rivals for the same favor.
Lucetta at once perceived the bitter animosity
of the two men by their bearing toward each other,
and mentally prepared herself for a skirmish of
passionate words, while casting about for a pla-
cating topic of conversation. Unluckily, her first
words were a firebrand : —
" Frank, you 've been away so long maybe you
don't know my friend, Mr. Swazey ?"
Frank glared at him, and said with cutting con-
tempt : —
" If he 's one of your friends, you may mark me
off the list! I don't count Copperheads among
mine, nor any one that does ! "
Swazey rose to his feet, hate blazing from his
eyes, his lips rolled back in a grin of ferocious
savagery from his clenched teeth, and presented a
most inhuman spectacle. Murder would have been,
at that moment, a pleasure to him, inflicting pain
a delight ; his hands contracted to fists, and invol-
untarily he took a fighting attitude.
" By heaven ! I 'm not so scarce of friends that
I would have one of Lincoln's dogs for one ! " and
he threw out his sinewy right arm to strike a
Frank nimbly sprang aside and laughed taunt-
ingly : —
" I guess this is not quite the place for us to
THE RIVALS 127
settle our differences. I think you 'd better join
Early or Morgan in Kentucky, and I '11 try to meet
you there. It would give me pleasure to blow
your brains out."
Lucetta caught Frank's arm and said entreat-
ingly, though not so softly in her agitation but
that Swazey heard : —
" Don't quarrel with him ; he 's a bigger man than
you; you don't know how strong and cruel he is ! "
In her anxiety she quite forgot the other man,
who dropped his arm at this speech, betraying her
entire indifference to him and her anxiety for
Frank. Swazey laughed sneeringly, and his aspect
was even more brutal than before.
" I 'U not hurt your fine sweetheart now ! But
I 'U fix him yet ! I did n't know I was making up
to another man's girl ! That 's why you would n't
go with me ! " he said coarsely, and left the house,
" What did he mean ? " cried Lucetta in agita-
" Nothing so very far from the truth, Lucetta."
" No, no ! Not that ; I meant his threat. Oh,
Frank, be careful ! You don't know what 's on
foot in this neighborhood. It 's too dreadful to
talk about. Even worse things may follow than
those that have been done. They don't dream how
much I know, and it 's as much as my life 's worth
to tell. You are a marked man. All Union men
are ; so be careful, for you are reckless, Frank,
and sometimes provoke people needlessly."
128 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" The impudence of that fellow pushing himself
in here! Maybe I know more than you think.
I '11 be all right ! Don't you fret ! They are
skulking cowards that work at night like jackals.
I 'm ready for 'em. — But I came for something
else, Lucetta. I want you to go with me to the
barbecue at Bolser's woods to-morrow in my new
" Oh, Frank, I can't go, for I 'd just told Mr.
Swazey I could n't before you came. I have n't
the heart for such things."
" Oh, a little fun will do you good. Of course
you'd not want to go with him. No respectable
girl would want to be seen with that scoundrel. I
never could see why girls run after every strange
fellow that comes into the neighborhood. That
refusal don't count. You '11 go with me, won't
you ? " he said persuasively.
Until Frank saw Swazey sitting there, discom-
fited, he had given little thought to the possible
chance of refusal ; but as soon as another man cov-
eted what he wanted, he felt for the moment that
Lucetta's company to the picnic was his most
ardent wish. Her refusal only made him the more
determined to win her consent.
Before he joined the army he had been a favorite
with the girls, and was accustomed to having his
favors received with alacrity and becoming grati-
tude. Lucetta's repeated refusal seemed like a
rebuff, yet he hardly believed her in earnest, as
she was only a girl after aU, and he a sort of con-
THE RIVALS 129
quering hero. He was chagrined, and felt at her
persistent denial the same humiliation he had ex-
perienced when defeated in a petty skirmish with
the enemy ; and then, too, he resented being treated
Lucetta, who had spent all her life reading the
riddles of other people's moods, unraveled his with
" No, Frank, I cannot go ! It is for your own
good that I stay at home."
He grew, angry at being resisted by a girl, and
flung at her cruel words as he quickly left the
house : —
" Since you know so much about them, perhaps
you prefer the company of a Knight of the Golden
Circle to one of ' Lincoln's dogs ' ! "
Lucetta made no answer to this unjust taunt,
but watched him drive down the lane, hurt by his
suspicion, and fearful for him if he went to the
barbecue in his present mood. His plain-speaking
did not wound her, for the people in the community
were primitive in their habits and open of speech.
The polish of polite society had not smoothed bitter
truth into bland evasion, nor secret irritation into
suave acquiescence, nor turned lively curiosity into
well-bred interest ; there was little glossing of rough
speech under the varnish of gentle manners, and
the thin-skinned interloper was apt to suffer. Be-
tween them, wisely, it was give and take, and there
were few quarrels and no feuds under such con-
ditions. But there was no small amount of good
130 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
feeling, real kindliness, and rude integrity in their
intercourse with each other, before this secret trea-
son began to permeate the State, and set friend
against friend, and neighbor against neighbor.
Their worst passions had been roused by the war,
and nearly to a man they sympathized with seces-
sion, and caught up and bruited about the trea-
sonable speeches of their leaders. The women
violently echoed the men, who were their masters ;
and now and then one was thought worthy to be
taken into their councils, such as Mrs. Bowles.
Lucetta was neither shocked nor surprised at
Frank's rudeness, nor did she feel resentment at
his savagery. It was not unusual for " men-folks "
to talk so, but he had grieved her by his last fling
as no sharp speech had done before. The ugly
scene between the two men left an uneasy feeling
behind, and she had forebodings of evil so strong
she could not dismiss them. Her fears were so
clamorous that before Frank drove rapidly out of
sight she resolved, with some wild idea of warding
ofP a crisis by her presence, to go to the barbecue
herself if Miss Abbot would accompany her.
The morning of the barbecue dawned clear and
bright, with the delicious freshness and slight
chilliness of the atmosphere which comes after
thunderstorms. The rain had not been violent
enough to make the roads muddy, and the dust
was well laid. People, not deterred by damp
ground and consequent discomfort, were seen com-
ing from every direction, in all sorts of vehicles
and on foot, — thrifty men, and even women, car-
rying their best shoes in their hands till in sight
of the objective point, Bolser's woods.
As each wagon delivered its load in the grounds,
there were hearty greetings and vigorous hand-
shakings ; every one seemed in fine humor. The
assemblage was plainly, even poorly, dressed, for
calico was forty and fifty cents a yard, and finer
materials proportionately dear. The men wore
trousers and coats of blue and brown jeans, and
their shirts were of homespun linen. The women's
dresses were of linsey, woven in such checks and
stripes as their fancy suggested and their skill
could execute ; and some were clad in clean but
faded cotton dresses they had bought long before
132 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
the war began. The old dames wore drawn silk
bonnets with long skirts, and the girls and younger
women calico sunbonnets. The young seemed
lively and cheerful, as if no war-cloud hung over
them, or their gay spirits may have been but the
exhilaration of the moment, called forth by the
occasion, — a rare break in their dull lives. The
elder people had a look of settled melancholy.
The girls giggled and prattled together in groups,
now and then casting inviting glances on the lout-
ish young fellows that hovered afar, but were keen
enough to follow at a safe distance as the group
moved from place to place.
The older men, after the first hearty greeting,
were taciturn and apathetic, or anxiously alert,
some even gruffly irritable ; others were collected
in knots talking earnestly, remote from the women
and younger people.
The speakers' stand was erected under a group
of magnificent beech-trees, whose long, interlacing
limbs, with their perfectness of foliage, made a
wide-spreading canopy of greenery, through which
the sun scarcely penetrated. Eude benches, con-
structed of boards laid upon pegs driven in the
ground, furnished seats for two or three hundred
On one side of the grove, where the trees had
been thinned, a trench had been dug, and early in
the morning a great fire of logs started, so that it
might burn low enough for roasting the beef, and
two sheep to be hung over it later. Now all was
THE BARBECUE 133
in readiness, and the carcases were suspended by
hickory poles, supported on heavy forked sticks
planted on opposite sides of the trench. The logs
were reduced to a mass of glowing coals, and the
savory odors from the meat soon attracted a large
crowd around the trench, many of whom had not
tasted fresh meat in months. They watched the
fat as it dripped into the fire, their eyes water-
ing from smoke, and jumped back with shrill
screams as it burst into a fierce little blaze.
Genuine coffee was ready to be put into pots at
the right moment, and brown cane-sugar was pro-
vided to sweeten it. These last were almost un-
attainable luxuries, for which parched barley and
wheat and home-made maple-sugar had long been
substituted. Many of these people, for months to-
gether, had not a cent's worth of actual scrip in
their possession; all their transactions were done
by exchange, — their farms furnishing them a bare
subsistence at best.
Alec Rush and Hiram Gillum were officiating
as cooks. When a great cloud of ill-smelling
smoke puffed into the girls' faces, tears flowed co-
piously, and they fell back en masse against the
boys " lined up " behind them. The young fellows
uttered mock groans, and stretched forth rescuing
arms, which the girls evaded with loud laughter
and a rush forward.
" Never mind, girls," said one swain, who had
overcome his bashf ulness enough to speak, " they
say beauty draws smoke."
134 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
At this sally, a black-eyed maid observed pertly,
" How purty you must be, Zeke Creeters ! "
There arose at this archaic witticism a com-
bined shout of shrill giggling and coarse guffaws,
which acted like a charm in dissolving the invisi-
ble barriers that had separated these boys and
girls, for instantly they paired off like birds on
St. Valentine's Day, and wandered hand in hand
about the ground.
Lucetta Whittaker had been standing on the
outskirts of this crowd with the schoolmistress.
Swasey's bold, fierce eyes had found her out
while he was on His rounds as marshal of the day.
He did not observe Miss Abbot, and concluded
that Lucetta had come thither in the new buggy
with Frank, whom, however, he had failed to dis-
cover anywhere about the grounds. Resentful
and vindictive by nature, he resolved not to let the
day pass without redress of some sort, petty or
great, as luck sent, for this slight upon him, con-
veyed by her acceptance of Frank's escort.
While the men were turning the beef on the
impromptu spit, Harv Wilson — who was grand
marshal, and who wore a scarf of red, white, and
blue muslin across his breast — came up, full of
" Most ready, boys ? " he asked.
Alec prodded the beef with a sharp-pointed iron
rod he had had the foresight to provide, and, as
the bright-red juice poured from the puncture, he
said complainingly : —
THE BARBECUE 135
" Seems like it won't never git done. It '11 take
an hour yet anyway."
" It 's been a-Langin' on here since seven o'clock,
too," said Hi Gillum, wiping his smarting eyes on
" We must do something with these people.
The Crof ton brass band did n't come ; the Arcady
Glee Club 's here, but they don't seem to satisfy
'em like a brass band. They're gittin' tired of
waitin', and I 'm afraid it 'U have a bad effect on
the meetin'. It 's eleven o'clock now," said Harv,
impatiently, looking up at the sun.
" Have a speech," said Alec, pacifically ; " that '11
fetch 'em. Plenty of time for a rouser 'fore this
critter 's fitten to eat."
" Good idee," said Harv, approvingly.
Shortly afterward his hard, raucous voice was
heard calling the people together. The feeble,
elderly men occupied three or four rows immedi-
ately -under the stand, and the others were sparsely
filled with women, whose lawful partners were
grouped together on the outskirts, smoking, chew-
ing, and spitting, and passing a bottle from hand
to hand. Whiskey was very dear, and conse-
quently was a great treat, and always in evidence
on such occasions.
A glee club of young men with nasal, discordant
voices sang a campaign song about " Little Mac,"
— who was seriously talked of as a presidential
candidate of promise, — and it was received with
136 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
That Harv read aright the temper of his audi-
ence, irritable from hunger and impatient from de-
lay, and cunningly used his knowledge to his own ad-
vantage, was proved by the speaker he had selected.
The orator came forward to the edge of the plat-
form, and his tall figure, crowned by a massive
head covered with tawny hair, that hung long and
thick about it like a lion's mane, his smooth-shaven
chin, brilliant, crafty eyes that could suffuse with
tears at his will, lips that curled with bitter sar-
casm or melted into a smile as gentle as a child's,
made him a man of remarkable and impressive pre-
sence. There was that in his bearing which stamped
him a leader of men, demagogue though he was.
He began his speech with moderation and a
happy allusion to the day, and gradually reached
the themes that set men on fire, — the conscription
act, the removal of McClellan, the enrollment of
negro troops, arrest under habeas corpus, the im-
pending draft. His voice, at first of fluting mel-
ody, gradually increased to a strident scream as he
shrieked to some invisible opponent : —
" Dare no more to lay your hands on the white
man's liberty ! As the Lord God reigns in heaven,
you cannot go on with your system of provost
marshals and police officials, arresting free white
men for what they conceive their duty ! Blood
will flow ! You cannot, you shall not, forge fetters
on our limbs with a struggle for the mastery I
The blood of a race of freemen is up ; it will not
submit to this assault ! You may conscript citi-
THE BARBECUE 137
zens from their homes into the army, but it is
true that the popular heart is no longer for the
prosecution of this war. Do you think you can
compel it so by force ? — by Lincoln's dogs with
collars round their necks ? "
His auditors were tremendously aroused, and as
he sat down they called, " Go on ! go on ! "
Harv seized the opportunity, while the tide of
feeling was at the flood, and drew forward a man
whom he introduced as Mr. Dodd. He was the
Grand Commander of the Knights of the Golden
Circle, though it was not generally known to his
He began where the former speaker left off, and
fell at once into personal abuse of the head of the
party then in power. On the instant, he turned
the crowd into a raging mob. He had a thin, pas-
sionate voice that rose and fell in cadenced mea-
sure, and it swayed them like a strong wind blown
across a field of headed wheat. His thin cheeks
burned with two red spots, and his pale-blue eyes
were bloodshot with the energy of fanatic passion.
" This government of Abe Lincoln's is a fail-
ure ! He is a usurper ! a tyrant ! To-day a dol-
lar in gold is worth one dollar and forty-nine cents
in their accursed greenbacks, earned by toil of the
farmer that calls forth bloody sweat ! This war is
butchery ! It is no longer a white man's govern-
ment ! They want to give your daughters nigger
husbands ! "
His voice rose to a shriek of rage, and the effect
138 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
was like a spark of gunpowder. Men surged for-
ward close up to the stand, wild with passion, and
yelled : —
" Down with the nigger-lovers ! "
" To hell with them ! "
" Death and damnation to old Abe ! "
" I ask you, in the name of God," he shouted
above the uproar, " will you submit to this, or will
you arm yourselves for battle, rise and defy them
in your own State ? "
" Treason ! " rang out clear and strong as a
The crowd turned as one man in the direction
of the voice. They beheld Frank Neal, dressed
in the uniform they were execrating, his arm ex-
tended, pointing an accusing finger at the traitor.
He was a fine picture of courage, at the moment
lost to all sense of policy or danger. On the
ground by his side was a tall, strong man, a stran-
ger to the people, who attempted to drag him from
his perilous position, as he stood, a conspicuous
figure, on the trunk of a fallen tree.
The speaker cast on him a glance of devilish
malice and proceeded vehemently : —
" Our cherished Vallandigham is an exile ; our
Senator is wrongfully expelled from his seat ; this
war is bloody butchery of our brothers ! Help is
at hand ; even now the hosts of your deliverance
are thitherward bound. Arise and free yourselves
from the yoke of the oppressor, nor fear the bloody
bayonets of Lincoln's dogs ! "
THE BARBECUE 139
This last taunt was flung maliciously and with
unmistakable intention at Frank, the only man
present in army blue, who still stood on his lofty
place. The crowd swayed toward him, now an
uncontrollable mob, shouting execrations and vile
words and threats, in most hideous timiult. Roused
in a moment of physical weakness by the delib-
erate intent of demagogues, inflamed by whiskey,
lost to self-control with the lust of murder in them,
they closed round the boy, who was now supported
by the man who had failed to drag him to the
Lucetta and Miss Abbot were lookers-on from
behind a huge beech-tree, some distance to the
rear of the seats, and were fearful of a tragic end-
ing, but powerless to aid. Lucetta felt sick with
despair as she saw her premonitions about to be
realized, and herseK utterly impotent to prevent it.
Frank stood in full view, struggling to speak again,
but the hand which his brawny companion had
placed on his mouth was like an iron clamp.
The men had deserted the spit, attracted by the
uproar, and the smoke from the burning fat rose
blue as incense. Lucetta was startled by a snap-
ping sound at her ear, and turned her head to look
into the barrel of a revolver which Swazey was
aiming over her shoulder at Frank's head. She
struck at it, but the hand that held it was muscled
with steel, and it only swerved aside. There was a
loud report, and the next instant a man reeled from
the stump, lunging heavily forward to the ground.
140 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
Lucetta shrieked, " Oh, Frank is killed ! " and
sank to her knees and buried her face in Miss
Abbot's skirts, while spasms of shuddering racked
The shot instantly sobered the mob, and an
appalled silence fell upon them. Then cries of
" Shame ! " " Catch the murderer ! " " Kill him ! "
" String him up ! " rose fiercely. Apprehension
made them tremble, and faces but a moment since
red with furious passion grew pale with horror.
They were not brutes, but men of primal passions,
untaught in the higher codes of humanity. They
had not guarded themselves against such out-
breaks by self -repression and culture. A sense of
justice and pity they had in common with all men,
and they were moved deeply as they crowded
round those who were tearing the clothing from
the dying man, shot in the back through the heart.
His blood spouted from his breast in a jet and fell
in red spray around them, each pulsation growing
feebler. The retreat of life was visible to them ;
it withdrew like early spring frost before the ris-
ing sun, gradually, irrevocably, — slowly retiring
before an invincible power, it left the glazing eye,
the relaxed muscle, the gelid clay. They were
potent to destroy but imj^otent to restore life ;
before them this miracle of life and death was
The victim had made one feeble effort to speak,
but he was quickly past words. No one knew him,
not even Frank, for whom he had been slain.
THE BARBECUE 141
Frank, meantime, stood staring down at the
dying man, so powerless that he could not lift a
finger. But he was brought to his senses by being
roughly dragged to the ground, and a strange
voice said : —
" You are under arrest for disturbing a public
" But they are traitors, and murderers, and
But a hand laid over his mouth cut off further
speech, and the owner led Frank away to his own
buggy and placed him in charge of a man who was
seated in it.
" You young fool ! don't you know how to keep
your mouth shut ? You can't stir up Copperheads
without gettin' bit."
" Who are you ? " asked Frank.
*' I 'm Lish Conway, provost marshal for this
district. Now you go home as quick as you can,
for I don't want another murder on my hands."
A FRIEND IN NEED
Jim Swazey was of the order of men which is
cruel to everything gentle ; if a little dog fawned
on him, he would kick it away from mere sur-
plus of savagery. He was especially ruthless to
women who had worn out his fancy, or crossed his
prurient purpose ; but he rarely met resistance
from those on whom his vagrant fancy fell. Why
a man of his nature should have selected a girl
like Lucetta as the object of his pursuit is one of
the world-old mysteries. Her unveiled repugnance
to him only strengthened his resolution to over-
come it, and when Frank appeared on the scene it
settled into deadly purpose.
There was one woman he could neither impress
nor bully. He more than met his match when he
met Mrs. Bowles. Her large, strong physique well
matched his own ; her bitter tongue silenced his,
or set him stammering ; a glance of her irate,
piercing eye — gray as half -chilled steel, it had a
red spot within it — searched out the most secret
meanness of his soul, and he withered before it,
as surely as did the " keerless weed " at her
kitchen door, on which she threw hot water.
A FRIEND IN NEED 143
She intuitively knew Swazey to tlie core of liis
bad nature, and reckoned him a bully, a coward,
and a most unmanly churl. So that when he
climbed the steep hill before her house the after-
noon of the barbecue, and asked her for protection
till dark, she was prepared for any disclosure he
might make, or that she might be able to worm
out of him.
She asked briefly and compeUingly, " What you
been a-doin' ?"
He answered sullenly, " I 've been to the bar-
" Got into trouble, I reckon ? "
The fellow's sullen eye sent her a sidewise
glance of hate, and he grinned wolfishly, showing
strong, tobacco-stained teeth, but the straining of
the upper lip did not betoken mirth. He made no
" You have — have n't you ? " Mrs. Bowles in-
He nodded an unwilling assent.
She held in her hand, as if interrupted in read-
ing it, an old newspaper, of a date two months
back, printed on coarse yellowish paper, the " Crof-
ton Index," issued at the county seat, strongly
Union in its policy.
" Look a' here ! Seems to me this fits you pretty
well ! " and she placed a calloused finger on a para-
graph in the telegraphic news. It was an account
of a bounty-jumper and deserter, supposed to be
an emissary of the Southern Confederacy, who, in
144 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
making his escape from Camp Morton, where he
was confined awaiting trial, had wrested the gun
from the guard, shot and nearly killed him with
his own weapon, and, in the excitement following,
made good his escape.
" I got it in town yesterday, round some carpet-
chain, and, as I don't get a-hold of a paper often,
I just thought I 'd read it. It 's mighty interestin'
readin', and val'able, too ! " And she smiled a sin-
ister, mocking smile, more awful than her frown,
under which he quailed and shrank back shudder-
" You 're a poor sort of a feller ! What you
'fraid of ? I reckon you done it to help the cause,
though bounty- jumpers ain't much to my taste."
" Is there a reward out ? " he faltered abjectly,
overlooking the fact that he was confirming her
suspicions by asking.
" Yes, ' two hundred,' dead or alive."
The poltroon cowered.
" Why, I believe you 're 'fraid I '11 try and get
it ! " She looked him over with contempt. " I 'm
not after blood-money ! All I want is to see the
cause prosper ; and if you 've done these black
abolitionists out of a cent, or, better, killed any of
them and sent them to burn in the pit for the sake
of the cause, I 'm the woman to help you ! Though,
God knows, I ain't got no use for such poor cattle
The man seemed cowed by the superior strength
of her nature and the scorn she heaped on him,
A FRIEND IN NEED 145
yet resented it, after the manner of his kind, as
coming from a woman, and was wicked and angry-
enough, had he dared, to have slain her on the
spot for her contempt and knowledge of him.
" I want to know what I 'm gettin' into first,
before I pass my word, Jim. What 'a' you been
a-doin' at the barbecue ? "
" Well, I aimed to shoot that damned Lincoln
dog that's pushin' himself into everything round
here. He tore the badge off of me in meetin' !
He 's insulted me every chance he 's got ! It 's on
account of him I 'm on bail. And he 's cut me
out of takin' Lucetta Whittaker to the barbecue."
" Oh, a quarrel over a girl ! I might 'a' known
it. Men '11 fight over a slip of a girl they take a
notion to, like two yaller curs ; and they 're always
takin' a likin' to the same one, though the good
Lord knows he made enough of 'em to go round.
And a matter of duty '11 slip by, and they '11 sleep
through it side by side, like a pair o' hounds in a
kennel." And she broke into a harsh laugh.
The man was furious enough to throttle her.
He was not accustomed to self-control, and was
only held in check by her extraordinary strength,
knowing well he would have fared ill in a contest.
" Him and me ain't done with each other yet,"
said Swazey menacingly.
" I omess Frank 's able to look out for himself
if he is a ' Lincoln dog.' He don't make threats ;
he acts. Or was it him you killed ? I reckon you
don't want to hide for anything else but murder."
146 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" No, I did n't kill him. The girl — curse her !
— knocked my arm, and I killed a young fellow
that's deputy marshal, — I don't knowhis name."
" Served him right ! " observed Mrs. Bowles,
grimly approving. " Come in ! Liddy 's at the
barbecue. She has the only tongue here, hung
in the middle and loose at both ends. They '11
not look here for you. Come in."
Swazey entered the kitchen, and Mrs. Bowles
opened the door of a closet by the chimney, and,
pointing to a trap-door in its ceiling, said : —
" I guess you 'd better get up in the loft. It 's
dark up there, but it ain't as dark as the grave."
She nodded with grim significance.
The man's lips worked savagely to keep back
the curses he would have flung at her had he dared.
He mounted a chair, slid back the little trap-door,
and drew himself up through the narrow hole by
There he lay the rest of the day, and late in
the dusk of the evening, while Liddy Ann was
milking, Mrs. Bowles called him to come down.
She gave him his supper by no other light than
the low kitchen fire.
When he had voraciously eaten a hasty meal,
Mrs. Bowles said : ; —
" I reckon you 'd better make for Bear Den Hol-
low. It 's a good six mile from here, and they '11
never think of lookin' for you there. They'll
think, from the start you 've got, you '11 be a heap
f urder off. Just follow the creek down ; they 've
A FRIEND IN NEED 147
scoured the banks every foot by this time. There 's
good hidin' places in the Den, and the raili'oad 's
only four miles south, and you 'd better git into
Kentucky as fast as you can. There you '11 be all
right. Here 's some powder and shot. Reckon
you 've got a gun ? " She handed him a compact
bundle as she spoke.
" No, I let mine fall when I stumbled over a root,
and did n't have time to pick it up again, they were
after me so close," and he swore viciously at his
Mrs. Bowles unhooked her sleeve at the wrist-
band and rolled it up to her shoulder, displaying
an arm as sinewy as the blacksmith's. She opened
the meal-chest, full to the brim with corn-meal, and
thrust her naked arm down to the bottom and drew
up a good-sized parcel, well wrapped up in paper,
and handed it to Swazey.
" They 're for the ' cause,' " she said express-
He took it, hastily tore off the paper and dis-
closed a brace of revolvers ; he snapped the trig-
gers and found them in perfect order.
*' If the men were all like you, Mrs. Bowles, our
cause would succeed," he said, compelled to admira-
Liddy Ann was heard coming heavily along the
board walk, and Mrs. Bowles opened the door and
said : —
" Go quick ! Harmless fools like her ain't to
IN BEAR DEN HOLLOW
News in country communities is sporadic ; it
starts no one knows how, and spreads insidiously.
About a week after the flight of Jim Swazey, it
was rumored that there was a ghost in Bear Den
Hollow. One night, two boys, fishing for " cat "
in the deep hole at the mouth of the ravine, had
seen a dim figure down in the hollow, which was
lighted in flickering spots by an overhead moon.
With boyish bravado they had called out : —
" Hi, there ! who are you ? "
The apparition had sunk into the ground, they
averred, before their eyes. The story ran further
day by day, spreading like circles in water when a
pebble is dropped, till the news reached the ham-
let of Appleton, which lay five miles southeast of
Ridgely, where it had come to the knowledge of
Colonel Gore, who commanded the Home Guards
in that section. Orders had been sent to him, as
to all the commanding officers of the State militia,
to be on the alert for bounty-jumpers, deserters,
and instigators of insurrection. Provost-marshals
were numerous throughout the State, acting with
the Home Guard and those of the civil officers who
IN BEAR DEN HOLLOW 149
were loyal, for iu many localities these latter were
not to be trusted. The militia was kept on a war
footing, a precaution rendered necessary by the
discouraging and threatening aspect of affairs.
A description of the deserter from Camp Morton
had been furnished Colonel Gore ; and the story
of the murdered deputy was all about the country.
Sheriff Hale had been in search of the murderer,
but up to the day Frank Neal met him on the street
in Crofton, and told him the story of the " ghost,"
— with his own interpretation of the mystery, — he
had not had the slightest clue, and so he at once
made his plans quietly to investigate the affair.
The same afternoon this information was given
by Frank to the sheriff, Tapp appeared in Apple-
ton with a supply of tinware suited to the equip-
ment of soldiers, and he sought out the officer to
dispose of his wares. Immediately after his trans-
action with Colonel Gore, a guard of half a dozen
men was ordered to make ready as secretly as
might be for instant duty, to meet their command-
ing officer singly, at a place and time appointed,
Neither the colonel nor the sheriff were believers
in ghosts, and each strongly suspected this one
might materialize into the man he sought, and,
without being aware of it, they acted in concert-
Sheriff Hale set off late in the evening with
two constables. They rode horseback, on account
of the rough roads, which in places were impassable
for a vehicle, and they were joined by Frank at
150 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
Kldgely. Colonel Gore had the benefit of vicinage,
and reached Bear Den Hollow just as the quiver-
ing gray of dawn displaced the darkness, before a
tinge of sunlight had brightened the sky.
The squad of men accompanying him defiled,
like Indians, on the narrow footpath edging the
stream. A tumultuous "branch" dashing into
the creek, as if glad to escape the gloomy precincts
of a large ravine, warned them they had reached
their destination. A cold wind made the men
shiver as they turned into the little canyon. On
the hilltop, a fox barked a sharp warning of ap-
proach ; buzzards sailed high, with a shrill swish of
wings, startled at the unwonted intrusion ; a song-
sparrow, which has few hours of silence, tinkled in
a hidden spot ; an alert squirrel darted up a tree,
tail lashing, chattering furiously, and continued
his flight in mid-air, sjiringing from bough to bough
to a place of safety deep in the woods. Further
up the glen, the brook threw itself headlong with
loud complaint down a tiny precipice, in haste to
quit the hateful place ; its ceaseless voice domi-
nated sounds of lesser volume. The search party
disturbed sleeping snakes, that glided away with
a hiss, and routed cold toads from their hiding-
places. They crashed through thickets of leather-
wood and spicewood, through brakes and ferns,
scaled the sides of the ravine with the sure-footed-
ness of goats, — rousing the owls to querulousness,
— and brought terror to a little world of insect
life, scurrying, flying out of their way.
IN BEAR DEN HOLLOW 151
The sides of the ravine were walled with huge
flaked strata of sandstone ; and not infrequently
great slabs fell from their places and brought up
tilted at dangerous angles, checked in their down-
ward progress by boulders or tree-stumps. No
difficulty, however great, hindered them in explor-
ing every inch of the glen, but not a trace of
human creature could they find.
By a mere chance, the men came together again
at a point where a tiny rill told of a sequestered
spring. "Worried as fox-hounds that have lost trail,
jaded and thirsty, they followed up a fissure-like
opening to its head, where they discovered a spring
beneath a penthouse of rock, so placed that the
sun's rays never found it out. It spread in a wide,
shallow circle over a bed of white sand thrown up
momently in tiny jets, that gently crinkled its sur-
face. The men fell on their knees, hot and tired,
glad to drink as humbly as the wild denizens of
The first man at its brink was Tapp, and his
quick eye saw on the soft ground the fresh imprint
of a human foot ; large and firm was the foot that
had pressed that tell-tale mould.
The others were following in single file, the
colonel at their head. Tapp pointed down, and'
said to him : —
" I think your man 's here."
The colonel, well versed in Indian lore, stooped
and examined the tracks.
"Yes, they're perfectly fresh. He must have
152 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
come just before we got here, and has n't had time
to get far away," he said, speaking softly so that
only Tapp heard.
The entire squad had collected at the spring,
and the colonel gave orders that some should
watch the head of this little ravine, while others
deployed right and left to scale its sides. The
mouth of the larger glen, debouching on the river,
was left unguarded, for it could be approached
only on foot, and had been searched until they were
perfectly satisfied no one was hiding there. The
hunt began again, and they gradually closed in to
the point agreed on, — the sombre spring, — peer-
ing under every bush, behind stumps and boulders,
even into fissures in the steep sides. Slowly and
warily they came together in a narrowing circle.
At last a sharp, surprised cry warned them the
quarry was run to earth. About a hundred feet
up the glen, wedged under a great slab of sand-
stone fallen from the wall above, and held totter-
ingly aslant by a shattered sapling, quivering to
further fall, crouched the murderer. A slight tilt
of the great rock would have released it and
crushed him ; but it was his sole chance, and, when
chances are narrowed to unity, men take desperate
Like a creature at bay, as the men surrounded
his refuge in response to his captor's cry, the pris-
oner sprang to his feet, cursing fiercely. He glared
at them from under his mat of tangled hair, like a
trapped beast. His face was pale from hunger,
IN BEAR DEN HOLLOW 153
and his eyes hollow from sleeplessness. He stood
defiant with superb courage, determined not to be
taken, hopeless ?.s the situation was. The sheer
wall of stone behind him prevented surprise from
that direction, so that he had but to guard his
right and left hand from behind the perilous am-
bush of the rocking stone.
" Surrender ! " commanded Colonel Gore.
Not a word did Swazey say, but with a revolver
in each hand, as if determined to work as much
destruction as he could before he himself should
meet it, opened a rapid fire which flew wide of the
mark. Waiting for orders, the colonel's men did
not, at first, return fire. But one youth, with the
fighting passion for the first time roused, rushed
on Swazey as if to tear him from his ambuscade ;
a shot, and he sank down in his tracks, apparently
lifeless. At this, pitiless fury took possession of
the squad, who, deaf to the orders of their officer,
fell on Swazey as if to tear him from his den like
a hunted wolf. Ill-trained, untried as soldiers,
they forgot discipline, forgot their revolvers in
their holsters ; not a shot did they fire, but made
ready to use the weapons nature had given them,
their brawny fists.
The sharp report of Swazey's revolvers, which
the echoes repeated clamorously, filled the hol-
low until his ammunition was gone. At bay and
desperate, he turned to the cruel wall behind him
and tried to scale it, tearing the flesh from his
nails in his frantic grip. He managed to drag
154 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
himself up a few yards, his chest heaving with his
sobbing breath. The rock above him would not
have furnished foothold for a bird. When he
realized escape was impossible, he beat his head
against the cliff again and again. His pursuers
were the better men, agile, sure-footed, and used
to climbing the steep sides of the ravine. Two of
them soon dragged him struggling to the ground.
" It 's McCune and no mistake ! " said Tapp, as
he looked the prisoner over.
" Who ? " asked Colonel Gore.
" The deserter — bounty-jumper — and ex-rebel
soldier that nearly brained the guard at Camp
Morton ! "
" It 's Jim Swazey, the blacksmith's hand, that
tried to kiU Frank Neal at the barbecue, and did
kill the deputy marshal," said another man.
The prisoner stood with a hand tightly gripped
by each of his captors, his lips working nervously
over his teeth, his chest heaving deeply, and his
wicked eyes glancing quickly from one to another
of the men surrounding him. He offered no resist-
ance, but seemed to have given up hopelessly. As
the last man finished speaking, he wrested his
right hand free, and quick as a flash drew a knife
from his breast and aimed it at the heart of one
of his guards. Tapp as quickly struck down the
" We 've had enouah of this ! " cried one of the
" Hang him ! hang him ! "
IN BEAR DEN HOLLOW 155
" Yes, liang liim ! He 's had his chance ! "
And the rope which was to have bound him as a
prisoner was unwound for the fearful office of his
Tapp tried to prevent it ; he implored them to
let the law take its course, but all were against
him, even Colonel Gore. As well try to stop a
hurricane by a silken scarf as to check by rational
speech the wild passion of men whose blood cries
for blood. In an instant the hapless wretch was
bound, the noose was about his neck. One man
threw the end of the rope over the limb of a huge
pine-tree tha£ moaned distressfully in a passing
gust. Eager hands grasped it, and ran with it its
length, dragging the wretch off his feet till he dan-
gled in mid-air, plunging and writhing hideously,
even cursing till the tightening rope throttled him.
The noise and excitement of the fearful scene
made the men deaf to all other sounds, so that the
approach of hurrying feet was unheeded. The
sheriff and his men burst on them, horrified to be-
hold the body of a man spinning at the end of a
rope like a plummet.
" This proceeding is illegal ! " shouted Hale in
agitation. " The State of Indiana does not recog-
nize lynch law as anything more than murder."
" Sir, the State of Indiana authorizes, by a pro-
clamation of the governor, that this man shall be
taken dead or alive, and, further, I am authorized
by martial law to use my authority at discretion.
This is a sort of drum-head court-martial," said
the colonel grimly.
156 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" Good heavens ! " cried Frank Neal. " Cut him
down quick ! Don't you see he 's nearly dead ? "
" Let him die ! " was the fierce answer, accom-
panied with curses.
" See what he 's done ! " and the men pointed
up the ravine where lay the body of the boy, for-
gotten till then.
The wretch at the end of the rope was now as
quiet as his victim, but for the pink-tinged froth
bubbling from his lips, and an occasional roll of
his bulging eyes and spasmodic drawing up of his
extremities. On this ghastly spectacle these men,
who were ordinarily peaceable and law-abiding cit-
izens, looked remorselessly, unmoved by Frank's
appeal or the sheriff's protest.
Suddenly Frank sprang forward and slashed the
taut rope with his pocket-knife, but too late. The
lifeless body fell to the ground in a limp heap,
TREATS OF FAILUEES
After the tragedy of Bear Den Hollow the
Knights kept in the background, impressed at last
by the fact that there was a terrific, silent power
opposed to them, which they in their infatuated
ignorance had arrogantly disregarded, — the Law
and the will of the determined but patient head of
the commonwealth. They were further disheart-
ened when the news of the ludicrous panic, satiri-
cally called the Battle of Pogue's Run, permeated to
their remote neighborhood. These rural Hoosiers
had their own stubborn idea of courage, and were
ashamed and disgusted at the poltroonery of their
leaders. Many, on being enlightened as to the
real ends of the order, which they had been taught
was for self-defense in view of certain contingen-
cies, deserted the cause.
On the convention of 1863 the Knights had
built their hopes, for they had carefully planned
to control it for their own ends. Governor Mor-
ton was fully informed of their plans through his
secret agents, and ready for any emergency ; and
when a great crowd had gathered in the State
House grounds, and, as Harv Wilson said, " every-
158 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
tiling was comin' our way," tlie cadenced tread of
soldiery sounded above the strident voice of the
speaker spouting treason. A scene of ludicrous
panic ensued ; men fled in every direction. So de-
moralized were they, they did not stop to watch
the passage of the artillery, which did not halt, but
paraded with set faces and twinkling eyes, amused
at the laughable dismay of the foe in this the least
sanguinary battle in which they had taken part.
These fustian Knights returned to their homes
humiliated, but were not deterred from continuing
their plottings. They had been fully enlightened,
however, on certain points, — the thorough grasp
of the situation by the governor, and his inflexible
determination to crush them, quietly if possible,
forcibly if need be. Their deplorable failure to
carry out their designs in so small a matter as
seizing the State Democratic Convention convinced
them that the time had not yet come for the up-
rising urged by the leaders ; and a warning from
Governor Morton, that if they wished to keep their
heads from the noose they must abandon their trea-
sonable schemes, helped to these conclusions.
But another and even greater failure was to fol-
low. With wonderful prescience on the part of
the authorities, Morgan's raid had been anticipated,
and the Knights, who had hoped to turn this also
to their benefit, again failed through imperfect
organization. They were ready with their "Mor-
gan sign," but not with their assistance, for they
had not counted on the prompt action of the militia,
TREATS OF FAILURES 159
and were disconcerted. About a week after the
lyncliing of Swazey, that intrepid guerrilla appeared
on the outskirts of Middle County and halted for
a moment at Harv Wilson's door for provender.
Morgan laughed contemptuously as Harv made
the fantastic sign agreed upon, and turned his jaded
animals into the flourishing cornfield to trample
at will, while his men feasted royally on the boun-
teous harvest-dinner spread, as if in waiting for
them, the guests having fled at the first sight of
the long, irregular line of galloping horsemen.
Morgan had been led to hope for cooperation from
the Knights, and when they failed him, either from
fear, or lack of dispatch in making ready, he did
not spare them. He singled them out for his con-
tempt and showed it plainly, the " Morgan sign "
The bold marauder came and went like a flash-
ing meteor, while his Hoosier allies stood agape,
surprised into total forgetfulness of the arms they
had secreted in their oat-bins, meal-chests, and
other unique hiding-places for this very emergency,
and they watched him vanish in clouds of dust,
astride their best horses, closely pursued by the
But treason in Indiana died hard, and none of
these misadventures made a lasting impression,
nor taught them that there was a vigilance exercised
by the governor, strong as it was patient, which
neither slumbered nor slept.
When the terrible news of the lynching of Swazey
160 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
was known in the neighborhood, then, indeed, they
were brought to a realization of their danger. The
Home Guard, up to that time, had been held in
contempt as too cowardly to fight with the armies
in the field, and too pusillanimous to be feared at
home. That they might use extreme measures had
never entered their minds. But force, rough bru-
tality, successfully applied, brings recognition with
a certainty which neither mild persuasion nor gen-
tle remonstrance can command.
For weeks the hanging was discussed stealthily,
as if the arm of military power was stretched out,
ready to throttle the first offender that dared speak
The timid members of the Vestibule dropped
off, with those who disapproved the designs of the
order, but the half dozen members of the " Third
Degree," of which Harv Wilson was one, were
more secret and active than ever. Their numerous
discomfitures crystallized their rather indefinite
plans into a definite aim of gigantic proportion and
incredible audacity. The name of the order was
now changed to the Sons of Liberty, to escape the
odium of the old designation, but it was of no avail ;
" Knights " they were, and " Knights " they were
to remain to the end of time.
The men who continued in the order took de-
sperate chances, — watched as they were by the
secret emissaries of the governor, — and trusted
only those who were bold, daring, and strong in
TREATS OF FAILURES 161
The autumn and winter passed away in the
vicinity of E,idgely without further hostile demon-
stration on the part of the Temple ; the Knights
were made the object of unceasing surveillance
by the officers of the peace, although they gave
no ground for complaint. Harv Wilson and a
chosen few made frequent trips to Indianapolis,
and Tapp disappeared from the neighborhood.
No one was surprised at this, however, for a rag-
peddler seldom braved the discomforts of winter
and bad roads to ply his trade ; he worked only
The following spring, the absorbing questions
were the presidential election and the call for men
for one year's enlistment. The people feared an-
other draft, and the old antagonism was aroused to
even greater violence. In the early spring the
news reached this secluded hamlet of Ridgely of
the successful raid of the Peace Men in the ad-
joining State of Illinois, and the Knights gloried
over it as a victory for their cause. They resented
the degrading of McClellan and the promotion of
Grant, so that all things seemed to work together
for evil throughout that spring of 1864. It would
seem that complications were serious enough with-
out the added rancor of a campaign year. To fur-
ther involve the affairs of Indiana, the Knights of
the Golden Circle, masquerading under the name
of Peace party, ostensibly seceded from the Demo-
cratic party, yet nevertheless controlled it.
Apparently none of these events ruffled the stag-
162 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
nant pool of life in and about Ridgely. But who
knows what riots and tragedies go on under the
turgid surface of such stagnation ?
When spring broke, it found the people in the
Neal neighborhood about their accustomed tasks.
Frank Neal had returned to the army, and was
soon to be mustered out, as his three years' term of
enlistment had nearly expired.
At the blacksmith's shop, the usual company
gathered to discuss " war news " to the ring of
Alec's anvil, — a company a little more poverty-
stricken and a little more discouraged than it had
been the previous spring, for they could see no
hope of peace. Grant was advancing on Rich-
mond, and they believed Lee invincible.
Swazey was never mentioned, and a boy of the
neighborhood took his place at the bellows. Alec
himself had quit the Knights after that night in
Harv's cabin, but remained faithful to his oath
not to betray them.
The old and young spinster had remained the
winter through in the lonely cabin, Lucetta study-
ing. Miss Abbot teaching ; and the bond of affec-
tion seemed to grow stronger each day between
the two, for whom no one else seemed particularly
to care. Lucetta had recovered sufficiently from
the loss of both parents to enjoy to the utmost her
books and the society of her wise friend. Her
formerly too serious air was tempered by gleams
of girlish brightness, but she could never be viva-
cious, so subdued was her spirit by years of hard
TREATS OF FAILURES 163
drudgery and poverty. Her appearance had im-
proved : she was no longer so slight as to merit
Mrs. Stump's description of " slab-sided ; " slender
she would always be ; release from constant ser-
vice, and the good plain food Miss Abbot insisted
on, had rounded her figure prettily. Even the
contour of her face had changed, taking on a fine
oval ; her soft, dark eyes were lighted with eager
intelligence ; and her hair, glossily brown as the
" buck-eye " nut, shaded a low, smooth forehead
from which the lines of care had vanished. Alto-
gether, hers was a pleasing countenance to look
Mrs. Bowles and Liddy Ann had passed the
desolate winter months in the dreary task of cut-
ting carpet-rags, Liddy Ann's tongue babbling
like a mountain brook, Mrs. Bowles silent and
grim as the rock that walled its channel.
Who does not love life at each recurring spring,
whose glories are visible and are the archetype of
that never-ending existence, the sum of all our
hopes, the despair of certain knowledge !
It was with joy the farm-boy turned the long
furrows in Mrs. Bowles's west field, and even that
grim creature felt faint stirrings of pleasure as she
followed the plough, dropping corn. But no sound
fell from her lips to show her sympathy with his
mood, which was of the blithest, for there was the
unforgotten ecstasy of the meadow-lark's song to
cheer him ; the odor of fresh-turned earth to float
about him ; the delight of faint green in the pasture
164 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
to feast his eye ; the placid content o£ the cattle, as
they nibbled the short tender herbage, to add to his
content : all tutored him in thankfulness for the
common but bountiful pleasures Nature gives for
the mere taking in early spring.
At Neal's, life had moved on with its accustomed
placidity and lavish bounty. They planted their
corn and waited for the harvest, accepting serenely
good or bad.
Thus spring slipped away till the corn was
nearly ready to "lay by," and no storm had trou-
bled the life of Ridgely and its outlying farmsteads.
Not even the rag-peddler had intruded into its
calm, and they feebly wished he might come ; for
he did not drive hard bargains, and was lively and
" friendly," a homely word that meant much of
good-fellowship among them.
AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION
Mrs. Bowles's spring-house, through which had
been led a sparkling brook, the outpouring of the
spring near by, was perhaps a hundred yards from
the kitchen door, halfway down the hillside. The
milk-crocks were sunk nearly to the top in its cold,
crystal water. Mrs. Bowles had been skimming the
cream for the churning, for the flighty Liddy Ann
was never allowed to intrude there. As she came
from her work to the house, her quick eye caught
sight of a white horse jogging down the road with
a hitch peculiar to an animal with the stringhalt.
It was fully a quarter of a mile away, down the
straight road, but she knew without a doubt it was
the tin-peddler's "nag" and van.
" Drat him ! " she muttered, as she gazed from
under her hand which shielded her eyes from the
" What 's he back here again for ? Nothin'
good, I swow ! "
It was only about six o'clock in the morning,
but all the neighborhood had breakfasted by that
hour, as a thin trail of blue wood-smoke from dying
fires testified, and had gone about their daily avo-
166 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
cations. The sound of Liddy washing clothes in
the back kitchen ; the voice of the boy urging his
lazy horse as he ploughed for the last time before
the corn was " laid by ; " clucking, querulous hens
with their " second hatch " scratching around the
door-yard ; the bees busy loading their thighs with
pollen in the flaunting hollyhocks in the garden;
the entangled gnats shrilling from the gummy stalks
of the " painted ladies ; " the whetting of the scythe
from the oat-fields near by ; the faint rasping of a
cross-cut saw from the woods, — all told of a busy,
simple life of labor.
Suddenly a pea-fowl screeched discordantly from
the top of a tall pine-tree on the bluff.
" It '11 rain before another sun-up," muttered
Mrs. Bowles. For thereabout the cry of that bird
was firmly believed to be an unfailing sign of rain.
By this time the white horse and rickety wagon
had drawn so near that a tinkling could be heard,
and the ribs of the scraggy horse showed plainly.
" Drat that feller ! " she repeated. " Come back
here again, has he ? I don't trust him ! He 's
a-peddlin' for something more than tinware ! He
means mischief, or I lose my guess ! "
Her lips were closed tight as she watched him
open her gate at the far end of the long lane. She
took a sudden resolution, and with her to resolve
was to do, so that before he had fastened the gate
she was in the kitchen. She said to Liddy Ann : —
" I 'm a-goin' over to Josh Miller's. The baby 's
took awful bad ag'in ! They 've sent for me ! "
AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION 167
"My! too bad! Who'd they send?" asked
Liddy eagerly, with an unquenchable curiosity to
learn the most trivial detail, peculiar to her.
Mrs. Bowles ignored her question, with her ac-
customed disdain of her handmaiden when she
considered her prying unwarrantable, but not the
slightest impression did it make on that irrepressi-
" Mebby 1 11 be home to dinner, and mebby I
won't," said Mrs. Bowles, as she took from its
nail her light summer shawl of delaine. Putting
on her sun-bonnet, she passed out of the kitchen
door, leaving Liddy Ann baffled. In such narrow
lives, the slightest incident is of interest ; and when
one is born with an acute desire to know every-
thing, however trifling, as was Liddy Ann, disap-
pointment is real pain, and she sighed as she re-
sumed her work, with the comment : —
" Miz Bowles is that gosterin' and masterful ! "
Mrs. Bowles disappeared around the corner of
the house, and, what was surprising, into it again,
for she opened the front door of the sacred " par-
lor-room," disappeared, and closed it quickly after
The house had been built before the township
road was constructed. Such roads are placed at
stated intervals provided for by the rectangular
survey of the State ; thus it happened that the new
one ran back of her dwelling, and the lane from it
led up to the kitchen, and the front of the house
was toward Honey Creek.
168 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
The peddler came on, with his wares jingling
pleasantly. When he reached the little orchard
by the kitchen, he tied his lank beast to the palings
and walked with swift jauntiness up to the door.
Liddy Ann's loud rubbing on the washboard
drowned his approaching steps, which were light
to stealthiness, compared to the lumbering tread
of the men who walk always on the bosom of the
earth or in furrows.
" Howd'y, Liddy Ann ! " he called out cheer-
fully from the doorway.
The tin-peddler was a friendly soul, and had
adopted the customs of the community with sur-
prising quickness, one of which was to call every
one, from infancy to middle age, who was not ven-
erable enough to merit the prefix of " uncle " or
" aunt," by his Christian name, and he had been
given his from the first. There was an amazing
number of honorary "Uncle Johnnies" and "Aunt
Betties " in the community, and, with the sagacity
of a politician, Tapp knew them all and so addressed
Liddy gave a scream and exclaimed : —
" My, how you flustered me, Oliver ! Why,
when did you come?" She left off work, and,
stripping the suds from her bare arms, pushed the
" scolding-locks " up from her neck with a sweep
of her puckered hand, preening as naturally as a
wet hen. She came toward him mincingly, as was
her manner in company.
AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION 169
" I 'm powerful glad to see you ! Won't you
come in and rest your hat? " she asked.
" I just got inio the neighborhood this morning.
I can't come in, for I 've got to go nearly to Crof-
ton to-day. Is Mrs. Bowles well ? Thought I 'd
just stop as I was passing, to see if she wanted any-
" My, it 's too bad ! Miz Bowles ain't home.
She had to go over to Josh Miller's. The baby 's
took bad ag'in. It do beat all how that baby gits
sick! Puniest thing I ever did see. Set down,
won't you ? " she urged, handing him a splint-bot-
" Guess I will for a minute. It ain't often I
get such a chance as this, Liddy, to see you alone.
Most as good as sparkin', ain't it ? " he said auda-
The delighted Liddy tittered and said : —
" Oh, go 'long ! None of your foolin'."
" You say Mrs. Bowles is gone ? "
" Well, I 'm not sorry, Liddy Ann. Are you ? "
" I never thought nothin' about it. But why
ain't you sorry? " she asked, jerking her head with
" As if I need to tell you ! But I 've got to go.
Got to stop at Alec's to have a shoe set. Wish I
could stay in such good company all morning."
Liddy Ann bridled and her face flamed, for
there is no woman, however great a fool, and how-
ever persistently overlooked by the other sex, that
170 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
is not amenable to tender insinuations. Man's
flattery makes itself felt, if it comes from the right
Poor Liddy had never had a " feller," and this
speech seemed promising. She trembled and gig-
gled, gratified and agitated.
The peddler could scarcely refrain a smile at her
undisguised elation. His keen eye watched her
simpering face attentively meantime, much as a
doctor watches a patient after administering a po-
tent drug, in order to carry out his purpose at the
critical moment. Any one less a simpleton than
Liddy Ann could have seen there was more delib-
erate intention than tender sentiment in the look
he bent upon her. At last, with an effrontery
that completed his triumph, he planted an explo-
sive kiss on her lips. Her delight was pitiable,
because his deceit was so apparent. He started
through the door, then turned back as if an after-
thought had prompted him.
*' Oh, Liddy Ann, I saw lots of young squirrels
in the woods this morning, coming along. Do you
" Well, I just reckon I do."
" I 've got my gun along, but I ain't got any
powder. I 'low to get some at Crofton to-day.
Wish I had some now and I 'd shoot you a mess
"Land sakes! Ain't that funny, now? Miz
Bowles 's got some. She keeps it in the feed-bin.
I found it t' other day when I went to mix shorts
AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION 171
in the milk for the weanin' calf. I come a-dashin'
in, and sez I : ' La, Miz Bowles, here 's a bag of
sometliin' I found in the bin with the shorts,' "
and Liddy paused for breath.
" Queer place to keep it," interrupted Tapp.
" Yes, I thought so, too. But Miz Bowles, she
said 't was powder, — she used to shoot like airy-
man when she was a girl, she said, — and she 's
afraid to have it in the house, for fear a spark
might reach it some way."
" Where did she get it ? I 'd like to get some,
too," cautiously pumped the peddler.
" La, I can't say. I don't know what she wants
of it, noway. She ain't got no gun now, leastways
not as I know of. When I asked what 's the sense
of havin' such dangerous truck 'round, she up and
said she did n't reckon I could see sense in much of
anythin', seein' I was mighty scarce of it ; that it
was her business ; there was times when it might be
needed, deserters, soldiers, and bounty-jumpers run-
nin' 'round the country. And she brought some
of it into the house. An' me that skeered of it ! "
" You don't think you could let me have some,
do you ? "
" I reckon I might find you a little. But Miz
Bowles is awful sharp about missin' things. . So 't
won't be more than half a teacupful." True to
her domestic instincts, Liddy Ann measured by
what was most familiar.
" Oh, that 's enough ! A little will go a good
ways in this case ! " said Tapp, chuckling.
172 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
Liddy Ann went to the old corner cup"board,
and, standing on a chair, reached to the top shelf,
and took down a cracked teapot, too worthless for
use, yet kept for some association, after the strange
manner of women. It was empty. She tried a
decrepit sugar-bowl with like results ; and lastly
peered into an old earthen jar, which likewise
" Why, they ain't none ! Whatever could Miz
Bowles ha' done with it ! She filled them things,
for I saw her."
Her vapid face grew blanker, and the peddler
looked disappointed. With a few words of part-
ing, Tapp went away, and Liddy resumed her in-
No sooner was the peddler out of sight than Mrs.
Bowles softly opened the front door of the " parlor-
room " and cautiously took her way to the wood,
whence came the droning sound of sawing. Her
face was livid with some emotion that was not fear ;
it was that mingling of rage and disgust one feels
at the involuntary baffling by a fool, from which
there is no security when chance thrusts him into
The men. Alec Rush and Jake Burrows, were
sawing, with the deliberation that comes of practice
and promises long staying power. The bright yel-
low sawdust showered down in little heaps, and
the pungent odor of sap fi-om green logs filled the
air and gave premonition of future trouble for the
housewife from clouds of smoke.
AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION 173
Hearing only the screech of the dull saw, they
were not aware of Mrs. Bowles's presence until
her harsh, dominant voice broke on their ears,
causing them to stop work so suddenly that the
saw quivered through its whole length in the heart
of the log.
'• Anybody here but you two?" she asked, with-
out preliminary greetings.
" Why, howd'y ! You pretty near sheered us,
Mis' Bowles," said Alec Rush, with a good-natured
laugh. " No, there ain't nobody here but us."
" I always told you men folks not to be so fresh
with that tin-peddler," she said, going straight to
the point. " But you are such blinkards, you can't
see an inch before your noses " —
" Oh, pshaw now, Mis' Bowles, you 're that sus-
picious," interrupted Jake.
" And you 're such a trustin' fool, Jake Burrows!
You '11 let anybody skin you out of your hide be-
fore you know it."
The man flushed angrily, but did not resent the
taunt, for his reputation was established by a deal
in " green goods," as he well knew.
"What 'sup now?"
" I told you a week ago to tell Harv Wilson to
come and take off that stuff that 's in my bin."
" La, now. Mis' Bowles, I clean forgot it ! I
did for a fact ! " said Jake, with affability that
exasperated Mrs. Bowles.
" I might 'a' knowed I could n't trust a man to
do anything ! " she said bitterly.
174 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" What harm 's done ? " asked Alee, who with
Jake's assistance was getting out firewood. He
had allowed all his stock to be consumed, and in
consequence was obliged to suspend his usual labor
till his wife's wants were supplied, she having re-
belled against picking up chips to cook with, that
Mrs. Bowles stepped close to the men and said,
in a low, rasping undertone, " That man 's a spy ! "
The men laughed.
" Why, he knows all the ' grips ' clean through,
from the Vestibule to the Third Degree. He 's
helped institute every lodge in Middle County ! "
cried Jake, who ardently supported the " cause."
" And he 's got letters from 'em all, — even Val-
landigham ! " said Alec, who, although he had left
the order, knew their secrets and kept them invio-
late for potent reasons.
" We 're well acquainted with him," he said
" You 're well acquainted with him, but you
don't hnow him till you go in the house and shet
the door and live with him ! " she grimly insisted.
" Why, woman, he 's a ' high muck-a-muck ' ! "
" He ain't nothin' of the kind ! He 's a nigger-
lover ! a black abolitionist ! a spy ! — and I can
prove it ! " She then proceeded with a narration
of Tapp's talk with Liddy Ann.
" I 've always suspicioned him ! But you men
never pay no attention to weemen-folks. You 're
so much pearter ! " she said sarcastically.
AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION 175
" Looks something like it ! " admitted Jake.
" Nobody knows what that fool Liddy Ann '11
do next ! And that powder and shot must be took
off this very night, and that there box marked
' Sunday-school books ' too ! "
And Mrs. Bowles turned abruptly into the path
that led to Josh Miller's.
The two men left the saw in the log and walked
off toward the smithy. When they reached it they
closed and locked the doors, and, with that utter
lack of caution common to the unsophisticated, be-
gan to talk the matter over.
They had artlessly supposed that locking the
door would be sufficient security against eaves-
dropping or interruption. Moreover, Mrs. Rush
did not know of their return, and she had been in-
structed to tell any one in need of the blacksmith's
service that he had gone to get firewood, a very
valid excuse among them for suspending any task,
for the claims of the cook were paramount to ordi-
nary business, and time was not precious.
The two men continued to talk in subdued tones
compared to their robust, vehement ordinary out-
of-door voices, but not so softly that they might
not be heard by any one who cared to listen atten-
tively. Indeed, their voices drowned the jangling
of the harness as the peddler led his old white
horse up to the shop. He, being always on the
alert and quick of hearing, heard voices within and
instantly caught his own name.
Tapp paused and listened.
Alec Rush said : —
176 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" If the old woman 's right, and Tapp is a spy,
it won't take Harv Wilson long to put him out of
" I reckon he '11 be at the meetin' at Harv's to-
" 'T won't take Harv that long ! He '11 do the
business to-night ! "
Tapp grasped the situation at once. He had
been spied on by that "she-devil," as he called
Mrs. Bowles, and he knew he must get away in-
stantly. He led the horse back to the wagon, a
quarter of a mile away, where he had left it in the
creek to soak its rattling wheels while the shoe
was being set. He harnessed slowly, to give the
conspirators time, then drove leisurely up to the
shop, singing loudly and blithely. His old horse
drew up before the shop, and by this time the
doors were standing wide open.
Without a change from his usual cordial man-
ner, Tapp called out cheerfully : —
" Howd'y ! Glad to see you again ! Got a job
for you. Alec. My horse has a loose shoe, and I 've
got to make Crof ton to-day. Can you set it now ? "
The smith looked somewhat red, and cast an
uneasy look at his companion. Hardly able to
control his embarrassment, he answered, "Yes, I
reckon I can," and got his tools ready.
Tapp laughed and jested till the shoe was set,
and then, driving off with a cheery good-day, he
resumed his tune, and was still singing as far as
they could hear him.
As Tapp drove along the lonely by-road, the
urgent necessity for speedy departure presented
" I 've got to get out of here instantly, that 's
certain," he mused. " I must n't go to Crofton,
for that'll put them on the sheriff's plans. It
won't do to go to Neal's, for Frank is n't at home
and I won't bother the old man. There 's not
another loyal man I can look to in this section.
Guess I '11 have to ask Lucetta Whittaker's help,
as I once told her. She can pilot me in the dark
over the ' backbone ' to the Greensboro road, and
I can catch the midnight train. She 's brave and
loyal. I want to get off without leaving a trace
behind as to how or when I went. They '11 be after
me like bloodhounds to-night, but I 'm used to
throwing such brutes off the scent, and I '11 do it
now. I must report to the governor before twenty-
Tapp drove two miles farther on the Crofton
road, when he reached a stretch of woods so densely
grown with underbrush as to be impenetrable.
Here he stopped, and, after carefully scanning the
178 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
higliway up and down to assure himself no one
was in sight, he alighted from the wagon and
deliberately laid down the rail-fence and drove
through the gap he had made.
It was now about eleven o'clock, the universal
dinner-hour thereabout, where the people break-
fasted at break of day. Meals were the only things
they attended to with unfailing punctuality, and
the peddler knew that every one would be at din-
ner. He carefully replaced the rails, drove into
the woods as far as it was possible to make his
way, unhitched and removed the harness from the
old horse, which gave a great shake when free and
at once began cropping grass. He then took the
wagon and forced it deep into the coppice, till it
could not be seen from any point ; he even straight-
ened up the hazel boughs that he had bent, so as to
leave no trace of disorder that any chance passer-
by might notice. The sward was thick and left
no wheel-tracks. He patted the old horse on the
shoulder and said : —
" Old Pomp, I 've got to leave you now for
good, but you '11 not starve, and there 's plenty of
Tapp walked straight on through the wood to
where the line of sycamores indicated the course
of Honey Creek. When he reached the creek he
followed it down-stream, keeping out of the way
of fishermen and persons in canoes, and losing a
good deal of time in taking these precautions. In
following the curves of the stream he walked nearly
THE RESCUE 179
five miles, and it was mid-afternoon when he reached
the land whereon the Whittaker cabin stood.
Mrs. Bowles's pea-fowl had not been a false
prophet, for the sky was now overcast and a moist,
fretting wind had risen.
" If this wind lulls," mused Tapp, " it will rain
to-night and be black as pitch. Now, sometimes
girls are afraid of the dark when they are not
afraid of the devil. They 're such contrary crea-
tures ! " and he anxiously scanned the sky.
He climbed the steep, narrow path from the
landing, where Lucetta's canoe was bobbing gayly
in the current, keeping a wary outlook, and, as his
head came on a level with the field, gazed keenly
around before he ventured out of the ravine. The
stunted corn rustled in the teasing wind, birds flut-
tered anxiously about in expectation of the storm,
but there was neither sight nor sound of human
folk, and he walked as unconcernedly up to the
cabin as any other chance visitor would have done.
He found Lucetta hard at work with a slate and
algebra, for it had been definitely settled, by the
aid of friends, that she was to enter Waveland
Academy the second week of September to prepare
herself for teaching.
" Howd'y ! " he called out to the girl through the
open door. " Don't want anything in my line, do
" Not to-day. I 'm glad to see you. Won't you
come in ? " she said cordially, for they had long
since formed an acquaintance.
180 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
He accepted the invitation, and asked with cheery
interest : —
" Are you all alone ? I 'd think you 'd have the
blue-devils here by yourself."
" Yes, I am alone. When I 'm busy I don't
" There 's no one about, then, but you ? "
She perceived a shade of anxiety in his manner,
usually so jocose and happy.
" No one. Nor has there been this whole after-
noon. Miss Abbot's gone to write a letter for
Uncle Billy to his son in the army."
"I'm glad of that. Miss Lucetta, for I'm in
a fix and no mistake. That old Bowles woman 's
turned informer, and the whole pack will be on me
to-night. Do you think you 've got enough grit to
help a hunted man escape ? " and he looked at her
smilingly, without the least show of fear.
" You 're joking," she said, unable from his
light manner to believe in his sincerity.
"Never was more in earnest in my life. You
remember what I told you the night of the jail
delivery ? Well, it 's come."
Lucetta started in surprise, and said hastily : —
" It was you, then ? I 've often thought so."
" Yes," said Tapp simply.
" And you were the man I saw under the oak-
tree, and the handkerchief was a signal to Frank in
the bushes ? I have suspected so since, but have
thought it safer not to know certainly about either
THE RESCUE 181
" You are wise enough for a man to put his life
in your hands," he said admiringly. " If Oliver
Tapp don't get out of here this night, it 's all up
with him ! "
He then told her all that he had learned, and
she was far more disturbed than he.
" If you do fall into the hands of Wilson, he '11
show you no mercy. You don't know him."
" Don't I ! " said Tapp significantly.
" But what can you do ? I can't think of a plan
myself. Every road will be watched, even the
crossings at the creek," said the girl.
She meditated deeply a few moments.
" I think I can take you through the ' Shades.' "
" ' Shades ' ! That sounds rather ominous," in-
terrupted Tapp flippantly.
" I mean the wild glen, called the ' Shades,' three
or four miles down the creek, not far from Wil-
son's place. They '11 never think of your being
bold enough to come into their own territory. We
can go through that, and from there it is not far
to the Greensboro road, where you can reach the
" That 's good ! I want to get to Indianapolis
as soon as I can. Must, in fact."
" Of course you '11 have to stay here till night."
" Yes, and the schoolma'am must n't know,
either. The fewer people in the secret the better,
besides being safer for Miss Abbot should she be
questioned, for they call her a ' Black Abolitionist '
now, all over the neighborhood. You have never
182 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
told your own exploits, I infer, or I should have
heard of it."
" Not to a soul ! Yes, you are right. I 'U keep
this secret, too. Well, you can hide in the hay-
mow till I come for you, and that will be when it 's
Tapp took up his hat to go, and Lucetta said : —
" Wait, let me get you something to eat. You 've
had no dinner. You'll need food for the long
tramp you '11 have to take."
" It would be welcome," confessed Tapp. " Just
fix it up so I can take it to my retreat."
At five o'clock Miss Abbot came home. The
gray clouds hung low, and a drizzling rain set in.
Lucetta had prepared supper, and after it was
eaten and the night work done they settled down
to their evening occupations, to which the pupil
gave her usual composed attention. By eight
o'clock, Miss Abbot, weary with the long day,
sought her bed, leaving Lucetta still busy with her
books. When she was convinced Miss Abbot was
sleeping soundly, Lucetta changed her apparel, put-
ting on the strong woolsey gown she wore about
her rough morning work and her heavy calfskin
shoes. She let herself out quietly, and when she
reached the log barn she called softly within : —
" Ready ! " came the reply, and she heard Tapp
scramble down the side of the barn from the loft.
" I 've had a good nap, and feel up to anything,"
he said cheerfully.
THE RESCUE 183
Slie could not but admire the buoyant courage
of the man, which was prompted by genuine fear-
lessness and sincere love of duty. She surmised
that he was trusted in high places, from the fact
that he had been given this commission involving
disgrace, danger, even death, and that he accepted
it cheerfully with all the risks it involved, for the
good of the commonwealth.
But she could not know what almost superhu-
man effort it required to prevent the culmination
in revolution of the widespread schemes which he
had discovered. She supposed the most serious
disaffection to be merely local and comparatively
harmless, but not entirely without risk to those
who actively opposed the malcontents. Neverthe-
less, she took the part chance assigned her, and
its occasions seemed to meet her continually ; not
opportunities for the display of great valor that
would furnish subjects for triumphal song, but
obscure deeds that would never be known or re-
She and Tapp scrambled down the ravine path
to the creek. The sky was overcast with clouds,
which the rising wind marshaled like battalions,
but the night was dark, though not of the pitchy
blackness of a moonless sky ; for had that planet
been visible, it would have been seen to be on the
He spoke for the first time when she unloosed
" I 'm sorry I can't help you, but I can't manage
184 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
a canoe, and I 've no notion of landing us both in
the water at this crisis."
" I know the canoe as well as a rocking-chair, so
leave it to me. You sit a little back of the centre,
and, when we pass the fords and get into the riffle,
sit quietly and be careful, or we '11 capsize."
When they were seated, Lucetta took up her
long paddle and shoved off, but kept well within
shore, under the blacker duskiness of the over-
hanging hemlocks, which here cast long shadows
across the creek when there was light, and intensi-
fied the obscurity.
Suddenly there was a whippoorwill's call, then
another and a third.
" It 's late for whippoorwills," Lucetta said
softly and unsuspiciously. " They call mostly at
Tapp laughed a short, harsh laugh.
" You don't mean " — she asked breathlessly.
" I mean we 've got off just in the nick of time.
The hunt 's begun," he said coolly. " Rest on
your oar, let her go with the current. These coun-
trymen have ears as sharp as weasels'."
Lucetta did as he bade, using the paddle only to
escape obstructions. The cries of the whippoor-
wills grew fainter in the distance as they glided on.
" We are going away from the hunt toward
Harv Wilson's," Tapp observed. " They don't
expect the game to run into the dog's kennel."
" We leave the creek half a mile this side of
Harv's," she said.
THE RESCUE 185
Once a long, wailing " O — a — k — houn "
sounded, weirdly terrifying. Then only did Tapp
seem in the least Impressed.
" Ah ! the ' Third Degree ' is out ! Something
like a slave-drive, minus the bloodhounds," he
The drifting canoe was utterly noiseless, the
waterway was deserted for the highways and by-
ways by the man-hunters ; for it was well known
by them that Tapp could not manage a canoe, as
one attempt had ended in his ignominious ducking,
to their great enjoyment.
After hours, as it seemed to Lucetta, they
reached the sheer cliff that indicated the precincts
of the place known as the " Shades." At this
point the cliff rose straight from the water to a
height of two hundred and fifty feet, following the
windings of the stream. At first sight it appeared
to be an unbroken wall that it would be impossi-
ble to scale. It was bare of verdure or shrubs of
any kind. At the height of one hundred and fifty
feet, there overhung a shelf - like projection of
stone along its entire face, which, from the water-
course below, seemed a ledge too narrow to furnish
foothold for any creature but a bird. In one of
the inward curves of this wall was a narrow cleft
from top to bottom, which nature seemed to have
riven for the outpouring of a " spring branch."
But if one pushed through this narrow cleft and
followed the stream, it led into a deep, dark can-
yon on which the stranger came unaware, but
186 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
which was well known to the inhabitants of that
region. Nearly halfway through the canyon, a
dome-shaped formation of stone filled up the pas-
sage from side to side, and down its face fell the
little brook, widespread in a thin, crinkled sheet
like glass, and, only for its gentle lisping, it might
have been taken for a crystal cap. The water did
not dash down the declivity, but slid gently over
with a soft murmur. A narrow, difficult track
led to the top of this dome, and a long grapevine
hung down accommodatingly to assist in the ascent,
which was partly through the water. At the top,
one path kej^t on to the spring in the head of the
gorge, and the other branched upward to the cliff
and led over the shelf on its face, which in some
places narrowed to a few inches, and in others
broadened to a width of several feet. On this
aerial pathway, almost in the centre of the cliff,
where the path turned inward in a sharp curve as
though for greater privacy, was a deep niche in the
stone wall, set as high above the path as a man's
head, which could be reached only by an effort.
Nature, in a pious mood, had seemingly fashioned
it for a shrine, for no man knew its origin. As if
to test the worshiper's sincerity, the path here con-
tracted perilously, and was made more hazardous
by the trickle of a thready rillet from a tiny
spring imprisoned in the rock.
But one person at a time could pass before this
shrine, and then only with due caution, for a mis-
step or a slip on the wet earth meant a fall of one
THE RESCUE 187
hundred and fifty feet down the bare, rugged walls
to the water below, and from this inward curve
one could neither see nor be seen beyond it on the
track. This dangerous passage was a short cut to
the Greensboro road, and was in frequent use by
the people thereabouts.
Lucetta left the canoe in the weeds, a little way
from the mouth of the gorge, and took to the foot-
path. As she entered the canyon, she began to
explain her plan to Tapp, feeling now that there
was no need of perfect silence between them.
"This is a dangerous place at night, in one
sense, but the safest in the other," she observed.
They were well into the ravine, struggling up
the dome, and black and gloomy it looked. Their
nerves were at the highest tension, and the tum-
bling of a stone sounded like thunder to their
startled ears. The old moon, forlorn and weird,
made a faint showing from the parted clouds, as
they struggled up the steep incline and came to
the divergence of the paths.
" This is our way," said Lucetta, turning into
it. " Harv Wilson's home lies half a mile farther
down the creek, but they '11 hardly think of look-
ing for us here ; we 're five miles from home."
As she spoke, the shuddering cry, " O — a — k
— houn ! " came down the creek, and was an-
swered faintly far up the stream.
" Great God ! " cried Tapp, losing self-control
for the first time. " They 're right at our heels ! "
looking back toward the creek.
188 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
He turned fiercely to the girl.
" Have you brought me here to trap me ? "
In a passion of momentary rage, he drew out
his revolver, but let the hand that held it fall to
the length of his arm.
" No ! I can't kill a woman, even if she is a
traitor. But if you were a man," he said violently,
" I 'd shoot you like a dog, and throw your cursed
carcass down there ! "
Horrified at his ferocity, Lucetta looked at him
and said in a startled voice : —
"You surely don't mean what you say? As
God is my witness, I am your friend. Trust me,
and I will help you out of this."
Ashamed of his brutality, and the weakness of
yielding to a natural fear, he said humbly : —
" Forgive me ! I trust you. Go on ; I '11 fol-
low, if you lead to hell ! "
" Remember," she said quietly, " it leads me into
the same danger."
By this time they had reached the ledge which
was the outlet to the safe road for him. They
hurried along it breathlessly, with hearts beating
thickly. When just under the shrine they paused
to get breath, and Lucetta warned him of the
danger of the path at this point. But an ominous
sound reached them that chilled the sweat on their
brows, and made the hair of their flesh to stand up.
Fear clutched at their hearts like a great hand
when they heard such noise in that lonely place.
Feet were scrambling up the track they had just
THE RESCUE 189
left, while voices were heard in the other direction,
some distance beyond the curve that hid them.
" They promised to meet us here at midnight
with the white-livered hound, if they caught him,"
said a savage voice Tapp knew to be Wilson's.
With fierce imprecations the same voice con-
tinued : " We '11 take care of the fellow if they get
him. A fall down here '11 break his cursed neck,
and such an accident 's likely to happen to any one
coming along here at night, 'specially a stranger."
Two or three voices joined in the laugh that
followed this speech.
" So," muttered Tapp, " that 's how you '11 take
care of me ! '
Despairing of escape, but perfectly cool, he
leaned against the wall, while Lucetta seemed stu-
pefied for an instant.
The two parties of men were now heard advan-
cing slowly and carefully from each way.
" It 's of no use to jump from here ; it would
only be a worse death," thought Tapp. " A bullet
would be quicker."
He spoke the last words aloud, and the girl
raised despairing eyes to his and saw, as her
glance fell, the niche in the wall beside them.
" Thank God for his mercy ! " she whispered.
" I 'd forgot it."
She caught the desperate man's arm and pointed
to the niche.
" Get up there quick ! " she said in an agitated
whisper, " into the niche and drag me in after."
190 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
He looked ; hope quickened his senses and made
him agile. Gripping the rocks till the blood
nearly burst from his finger-tips, he drew himself
up into the sanctuary, then fell to his knees, and
dragged up the girl.
The patter of loose stones as they were displaced
by on-coming feet sounded just below them. They
crouched close together in the narrow refuge, wait-
ing, spent with terror and exertion, as the men
passed in Indian file below them. The first one
slipped on the wet path, and swore savagely as he
caught himself by clutching at the rocks in the
" Look out, boys ! there 's a spring here ; it 's
as slick as the mouth of hell ! "
Each man, intent on passing safely, bent his eyes
to the path, — which was faintly lighted now by
the moon that shone fitfully on the other side of
the creek, — and gave no thought to anything but
his own peril. They met the other party at the
widening of the ledge, out of sight, but in full
hearing of Tapp and Lucetta, and reported their
failure. With curses and threats, the whole party
turned back toward Wilson's.
THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR
The governor sat late in his private office in
the State-house. He was talking quietly to three
gentlemen seated about the table with him. One
was the adjutant-general of the state militia, Gen-
eral Hovey ; the second, the provost - marshal for
the city. Colonel "Wells ; and the third, Brigadier-
General Carrington, in command of the district
of Indiana. Their conversation was desultory and
they had the appearance of awaiting some event.
Of the four men, Governor Morton's personality
was the most impressive, as it was likely to be in
whatsoever company. The massive nobleness of
his head at once attracted notice ; and his counte-
nance expressed strong intellectuality and inflex-
ible determination, tempered by benevolence. The
forehead was high and full, across which strands
of black hair fell, carelessly displaced by the rest-
less hand now stroking the full black beard ; the
eyes were dark and piercing, as if potent to see
far beyond the black wall of trouble and danger
that encompassed him ; the nose was too small to
be symmetrical ; and the chin unequally balanced
the brow and skull.
192 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
Morton could weigh men's motives and gauge
their sincerity with marvelous accuracy. In these
days of peril and perplexity, caution to the point
of suspicion had to be exercised in the selection of
advisers, and his tact and acumen were equal to
the emergency. He acknowledged the patriotism
and loyalty of his political opponents by num-
bering them among his advisers, and trusting to
them the execution of his plans. Of strong polit-
ical convictions, he was no narrow partisan when
the occasion demanded the help of all loyal men.
Consequently he had their support and confidence
to such an extent that he brought the State of
Indiana through a crisis such as endangered no
other. He made a needful few the repository of
state secrets, but these he trusted entirely.
In his intercom'se with his councilors he was
the genial friend, but also the man of authority,
vested in him as the governor of a great State,
which he neither magnified nor disparaged.
He habitually used a low, well-modulated tone in
conversation. His voice was a wonderful organ,
the perfect instrument of an orator. In public
speaking it was clarion-like, piercing and far-reach-
ing. It rolled in tremendous vehemence over an
audience, and held it entranced by the flow of
rapid eloquence, or fell to pathetic sweetness that
swept over their heart-strings like the fingers of
Saul across his harp, and moved them to tears.
Splendid in invective, scathing in denunciation,
courageous to recklessness in the expression of
THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR A93
his opinions, a master of facts, logical in argument,
never truckling from expediency nor shrinking
from duty, patient to long-suffering, and just, —
with such qualities Morton had few peers in state-
He was the greatest of that trio — Yates, Todd,
and Morton — on whom fell responsibilities, during
the Civil War, second only to those of the great
head of the nation. Whatever feeling of ill-will
was cherished then against Morton, time has left
nothing but grateful remembrance of faithfulness,
courage, and ability to govern wisely amid the
distractions of a second chaos.
The men who were the instruments chosen to
preserve us a nation were not from those living on
the highest spiritual plane, but from the strong,
intrepid worldlings accustomed to leading men by
craft and virile power. Ardent John Brown, ve-
hement Parson Brownlow, calm William Lloyd
Garrison, elegant Wendell Phillips, even peevish
Horace Greeley, took a minor part in precipitating
the conflict, but in the crisis made way for men
like Grant, Morton, Lincoln, — men of stronger
fibre, lustier energy.
As the governor sat at the table, he glanced once
or twice at the round-faced clock on the wall;
turning to General Carrington, he said : —
" Is n't it time Grundy was here to report ? "
" Yes, sir. He said at ten o'clock ; it lacks only
a minute or so of that hour."
All waited patiently for the interval to pass, and,
194 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
before it was gone, a gentle rapping was heard on
the door which led into the outer office.
"Please open it, Hovey," said the governor.
Hovey unlocked the door, and the man awaited
entered. It was the tin-peddler, known about
Ridgely as Oliver Tapp, and to the governor and
his confreres as J. J. Grundy. After salutations
were exchanged, the four men drew closer to the
table where the governor was seated. Tapp laid
before Morton a number of papers. These he
examined carefully, and compared from time to
time with a memorandum he had at hand. He
then passed them to his colleagues, who glanced
over them. All looked serious ; but if they felt
depressed at the report of the agent of the secret
service, they made no remark.
Selecting one of the papers, the governor said to
Tapp : —
" I am afraid you are unnecessarily reckless,
Mr. Grundy, but you have certainly made a thor-
ough investigation of the affairs in Middle County,
and I thank you for it."
" Of course, there is more or less risk involved
in such a mission, and perhaps in some particulars
I exceeded my authority, but you remember, sir,
I was left to my own judgment. They were such
rank Copperheads that I was determined to get
into their most secret schemes. I therefore com-
menced at the ' Vestibule,' and went on up through
the Temple, taking the three highest degrees, and
I have the honor of belonging to the Grand Coun-
THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR 195
cil. On my last trip to RIdgely I came near not
getting away," and he laughed his reckless laugh.
" How was that, Grundy ? " asked Hovey.
" If it had n't been for a girl, I 'd been a cold
corpse by now," and he detailed with much feeling
the part Lucetta had played in the stirring affairs
of the township and in his rescue.
" There are a few loyal men that can be trusted,
are there not ? "
" Yes, a few among the old men ; the young
men are in the service ; and there are a few women
as fearless and courageous as the men in the field."
" This Wilson," asked the governor, tapping a
paper he had just been considering, " is still at the
head of affairs in that county ? "
" Yes ; he and Coultiss, who is Grand Com-
mander of the County Temple, but Harv 's the
' power behind the throne.' "
" They are in constant communication with
Grand Commander Dodd here ? "
" Yes, sir ; and through him, with Supreme
Commander Vallandigham at Windsor."
*' You think the scheme for the uprising almost
perfected ? "
" Yes, sir ; complete to the most trivial point.
You would hardly credit them with inventing such
fantastic folly ; they have grips and signs, and a
distinguishing cry for each degree. Down in Rif-
fle Township, when they want to call a secret ses-
sion they put up a big tin star on a tree. Yes,
the time is set for the middle of August."
196 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
Governor Morton's face was not moved from its
accustomed calm, but the others started in surprise.
" Tliey have learned nothing from the events of
last summer," observed Carrington.
" There is no school for fools," said the adjutant-
"You think their plans are all formulated,
Grundy?" asked the governor.
" As well as they can be, until they meet the
approval of the Supreme Commander, and you
may not know that the meeting of the peace com-
missioners this week, at Niagara Falls, will be
utilized by the Grand Council to that end."
" Their present plans may be modified at this
meeting?" observed Morton inquiringly.
" Yes, unless the President remains firm in his
decision as to the terms of peace."
" Would it not be well if Mr. Grundy would
give us an outline of the scheme as he has learned
it. Governor ? " asked Wells. " He may give us
fuller information than we now have."
" Perhaj)s it would be as well," assented the
governor. " Proceed, Mr. Grundy."
" The day of the uprising was set for July
20, but they were not sufficiently organized and
equipped, so Wilson informed me, and it was
postponed. And that reminds me, there is an old
woman down there that has a hand in this last
business, — old Mrs. Bowles, as venomous a Cojj-
perhead as ever dragged on its belly ; last spring I
reported her to you, sir, as having received arms
THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR 197
under the guise of a cutting-box, and myself deliv-
ering her caps and cartridges. This time she was
more discreet, and I could find little against her,
but she has evidently been at her old tricks," and
Tapp smiled at the recollection of the guileless
Liddy Ann. " But to return to Harv : he told
me every Temple in the State — and they are or-
ganized in forty-five counties — had been notified
to move at a moment's notice by the middle of
August. The plan in this State is to concentrate
the main body in Indianapolis. The arsenal is to
be seized. Camp Morton raided and rebel prisoners
released. And to-morrow night, sir," turning to
the governor, " at the Grand Council the Commit-
tee of Thirteen will be appointed, who will be em-
powered to select a Committee of Ten ' to take
care of the governor.' "
Morton's face relaxed slightly, but he made no
" What do they mean by that, Grundy ? " asked
the provost-marshal. Wells.
" Murder, in my opinion. He is to be held as a
hostage for prisoners taken during the insurrec-
tion ; failing that, he is to be made way with."
" Then it is n't definitely decided on whom this
" No, only on one of the Committee of Ten, and
that by lot, so that even they will not know the
person who draws it."
" It would be well to be present at that council,
Grundy," observed the governor.
198 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" I intend to, sir. And one of that Committee
of Thirteen, if I can manage it."
General Carrington was not quite satisfied with
the information Tapp gave on one point, and
asked : —
" Did you learn the extent of the entire order
as a military organization ? "
" In the Grand Council of June 14 they re-
ported they could raise an invading army of three
hundred thousand. They have plenty of money ;
a haK-million dollars was sent by their agents in
Canada for arms. Indiana is divided into four
military districts, each under a general, and they
claim they can furnish from seventy-five to eighty
thousand men. Wilson says Middle County will
send nine himdred ; but it won't, by half that."
" Whom do they rely on to supply the rest of
this three hundred thousand ? " asked the provost-
" They expect to be joined by Early from Ken-
tucky with forty thousand, and Price from Mis-
souri with thirty thousand ; the Temples of Illinois
promise fifty thousand ; Ohio does n't stipulate
an exact number, but has engaged to cooperate.
They have depots for arms in Cincinnati and New
Albany, and they are to be wagoned to the rural
districts. Old Dr. Bowles asked me if I could
get three thousand lances ; he seemed to think
them appropriate for Knights, — struck with the
romance of it, I suppose, but he did not propose
to rely on these altogether, for a revolver was to
go with each lance."
THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR 199
" Was this information communicated to the
various temples in writing, Mr. Grundy ? " asked
" Not to my knowledge, though possibly cipher
was used, but I think it was communicated to all
verbally by agents."
The governor spread before him a letter he had
taken from the table drawer.
" Are you familiar with cipher, Grundy ? " he
" Yes, sir ; I can read it, not readily, however."
" Transcribe this, then." And to Tapp's amaze-
ment he put into his hand the identical letter he
had seen two days before in Heffren's office in the
town of Salem.
" We have more than one way of obtaining in-
formation, Mr. Grundy," was all Morton said.
Tapp took the letter, and after some time laid it
before the governor, written out in full.
It ran thus : —
Headquarters 10th District,
Grand Marshal's Office.
Deputy Marshal, — We have 40 rifles and 100
pistols for your township. It is necessary that
they are placed in the hands of our brothers imme-
diately. Inform your company that the arms will be
ready on Wednesday night. Yours,
A. A. D. C.
Governor Morton read it through deliberately,
then said to Tapp : —
200 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" Your transcription tallies exactly with the one
Coffin made to-day."
Tapp looked in admiration at the man who was
slowly and patiently picking up the smallest threads
of the conspiracy, and winding them into a stout
coil by which to throttle the conspirators.
" There is one hitch in all these plans," said
" What is that? " inquired Wells.
"There is no reliable head. Vallandighara is
a rash enthusiast ; Dodd is a man of straw ; Bowles
is too old ; and Bullet 's in prison. Price and Early
would lose their heads in this sort of a thing."
" What about Jeff Davis ? " asked Hovey.
" Oh, he is fully informed by an agent sent to
Richmond, a fellow named Dickerson. He has
never had perfect confidence in the order ; and if he
fails them, as they now think, they will join forces
with the renegades in Canada and form a new
federation, and will call it the Northwestern Con-
The governor smiled, and the other men received
this intelligence as prompted by their tempera-
ments. General Carrington laughed heartily at
the effrontery of it ; General Hovey's face flushed
with anger, and he muttered invectives wrathful
and profane ; Wells looked incredulous. The gov-
ernor alone remained unmoved ; for he had unrav-
eled so many plots and counterplots it had become
as easy as unraveling Mrs. Bowles's knitting.
" There is another matter of which I would like
THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR 201
to speak, if you will pardon the personal nature of
it," said Tapp, with evident reluctance. " You
know I have visited all the disaffected districts,
and I find another grievance, and that exclusively
among loyal men, — extremists, I might say. They
strongly criticise your selecting as advisers, and
honoring with your confidence, men from the other
party, ' War Democrats,' and openly complain at
the trust you repose in them."
The governor listened attentively, and then said
firmly : —
" You were perfectly rfght to tell me, Grundy.
But, when I am convinced of his loyalty, I ques-
tion no man's politics in such times as these." ^
The governor mused a few moments, as if con-
sidering this new source of trouble, then, rousing,
said : —
"It is growing late, gentlemen. I will detain
you no longer."
Mr. Morton remained alone in the state-house
an hour longer, busy at his desk. On leaving the
building, he had taken but a step or two into the
grounds, which were ill-lighted and full of shrubs
and trees, when a shot rang out and a bullet
whizzed by his head. He paused an instant and
looked about for the would-be assassin, then calmly
proceeded to the Bates House, where Carrington's
headquarters were, and reported the matter to
THE MEETING OF THE GRAIO) COUNCIL
The commanders of the county temples had
been notified in cipher that a meeting of the great-
est importance would be held in the printing-office
of Grand Commander Dodd, at Indianapolis, on
the evening of Tuesday, July 28, and such com-
manders of branch temples as might be useful in
a very serious crisis were ordered to be present.
The meeting was of such importance that not a
hint of it must be dropped to the masses of the
faithful, but kept inviolate by the chosen few.
Tapp had been duly notified of this meeting on
the first day of his arrival at Ridgely, before he
had gone to Mrs. Bowles's. He had met Wilson at
the little wooden post-office, in the presence of the
assembled loafers, who were tilted back in their
chairs against the side of the building, protected
from the July sun by the deep shadow it cast, and
chewing tobacco as placidly as cows do their cuds.
Occasionally a drowsy word was dropped as from
a man talking in his sleep, while the company
waited for the hack to bring the tri-weekly mail
from Crofton. The ring of horseshoes sounded
sharply from the rear of the smithy, where others
THE MEETING OF THE GRAND COUNCIL 203
were playing quoits, and occasionally a somnolent
loafer would rouse and drag himself off to see how
the game was progressing.
In one of these slight diversions Harv said aside
to Tapp : —
" I want to talk to you. Can you drive my way ?
You go first."
Tapp replied, " All right," and set off on the
dusty street that dipped down the hill to Honey
Creek. Harv followed a few moments later and
overtook him at the ford, where he began abruptly :
" I had a notice from the General Secretary that
all of us commanders must be in Indianapolis the
28th. Something important up, I reckon. I can't
go ; I 've got threshing that day. But there 's
nothing in your way, so you'd better go. As
a member of the Supreme Council of Kentucky,
you'd be more than welcome. Coultiss can't go
neither ; he 's threatened with typhoid fever."
Tapp accepted the mission, and was given the
password and a line of recommendation. The next
night he was hunted like vermin by the very man
for whom he had agreed to stand substitute at the
meeting of the Grand Council.
Harv never dreamed of Tapp having the temer-
ity to carry out this plan of representing him ;
therefore he made no attempt to notify Dodd : nor
could he quite believe Mrs. Bowles's suspicions in
regard to him correct, although he had so far
yielded to her will as to try to apprehend him.
Not finding a trace of him, nor any other suspicious
204 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
fact against him, he concluded it was only old Mrs.
Bowles's prejudice against Tapj) as a man, such as
she held, as they well knew, against them all.
The hour of ten o'clock on Tuesday night saw
Tapp climbing the narrow, dirty stairs that led to
the fourth floor of a dingy building on W street
in the capital. When he reached a door profusely
decorated with black thumb-marks in printer's ink,
he knew he was at the appointed place.
He was admitted to an outer room by a door-
keeper, with whom he entered into a short colloquy.
At the committee-room door the password was
" Ba-YARD," said Tapp unhesitatingly, strongly
accenting the last syllable, which was the test of
When he entered this second room, — a dingy
private office, which was very small, with one win-
dow overlooking the street, — he found a company
of men gathered there.
The meeting was not a formal one, but had been
hastily called together for consultation, owing to
the serious failure of the plans of the week before.
Only Dodd, the Grand Commander, and Heffren,
Deputy Grand Commander, had authority to call
such a meeting.
Among those present were four generals of the
order, and the trusted heads of a dozen or more
county temples. Middle County was not repre-
sented, as Tapp was relieved to see.
THE MEETING OF THE GRAND COUNCIL 205
Tlie meeting came to order, but the business
proceeded informally. The men were scattered
about the room, seated or standing. The air was
heavy with tobacco smoke and the smell of printer's
ink. Tapp took a position near the door of en-
trance, leaning against the wall. In front of him
stood a burly man who completely hid him from
Dodd presided over the meeting, and Harrison
acted as secretary. The names of the Grand
Council were called, among them that of Harv
Wilson, who was absent.
" We are called together here," said Dodd, " to
decide a very serious matter. To-morrow an ex-
pose will appear in the ' Journal.' BuUett is even
now under arrest as a United States prisoner, ap-
prehended on information of spies. There 's a
traitor in the Council somewhere. The time has
come for prompt action. The meeting is open to
any gentleman who has anything to say pertinent
to the subject under consideration."
A tall, gaunt man arose and said : —
"You know I advised getting rid of Coffin at
the June meeting of the Grand Council. How any
one here could have admitted him to the Council
passes my understanding. I am convinced he is a
United States detective. He, and the one man
who, next to that monster usurper in the White
House, is our greatest enemy, — Morton, — should
be taken care of, put out of the way ! And I would
suggest that the Committee of Thirteen be empow-
206 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
ered at once to appoint a Committee of Ten for
this purpose." And the gentleman subsided.
" But the trouble is, would n't that be regarded
as murder by most people ? " bluntly asked the
burly man in front of Tapp, who seemed unpre-
pared to go to the length of the speaker and such
fanatics as Bowles, Dodd, and Milligan.
" For the good of the cause, man, tyrants and
traitors must be removed ! " interrupted the chair-
" Well, you may assassinate, if you like ; I 'm
not of that stripe. I 'm in for fair fight."
" Gentlemen, gentlemen, we must have ' union '
among ourselves, if not the States, if we do effec-
tive work," said Heffren, with the Judas-like smile
and suavity characteristic of him. He might easily
have been a leader but for some weakness of his
moral fibre that caused him to yield under great
pressure. He was not strong enough to face
bravely the results of his own treason, and added
to cowardice the meanness of turning informer.
" I thought this organization was for the pur-
pose of resisting the draft and stopping this war,"
observed Tapp, pacifically.
" So it was, young man," answered the gaunt
man that had spoken before,
" But there are greater issues behind it, Dodd,"
he said, turning to him. " You 're fully posted ;
tell us exactly how affairs stand."
" Until this evening's paper came out, I thought
everything was going on all right," said Dodd
THE MEETING OF THE GRAND COUNCIL 207
ruefully. "As you know, I went to the Peace
Conference at Niagara Falls and had a private
conference with Clay, Holcombe, and Saunders,
and we enjoyed many a laugh at the doddering
marplot old Abe sent. We managed to let Clay
and those fellows know a good deal, and they were
in full sympathy with us. I sent a full report of
our organization to the commander-in-chief of the
Confederacy by them."
"How did these men personally receive the
cause ? "
" Very kindly, and as furthering their own.
They did not offer their help, but would be glad
of ours. They agreed with President Davis that,
' the war would end when their independence was
recognized, and that they would have or extermi-
" Selfish devils ! They care precious little for
our necks ! " interjected Tapp, who instantly saw
he had struck a false chord and tried another
move to restore harmony.
" You went from there to Chicago, Mr. Dodd ? "
" Yes. The secret meetings of that convention
did more effective work than the public ones. We
decided, for one thing, to set a date for the general
uprising of the order."
The news was received quietly by most, as if it
were long anticipated, but to a few it came in the
nature of a shock.
" What 's the date ? " asked Tapp's portly neigh-
208 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" The 16th of August."
" How do you propose to accomplish it ? " asked
a frowzy man perched on a printer's stool, who
had hitherto been silent.
" Well, we '11 have to look to the individual
members of the order, especially the commanders
of the temples. They must be brave and prompt.
We '11 not let the country members in general
know too soon, for they might back out with too
much time to think about it. It 's got to be sharp
work ! The men must be in readiness to move at
a moment's notice, and will be collected in secret
camps the night before, when necessary. We will
concentrate the troops here."
"You will surely have some project to mask this
movement, to divert suspicion?" exclaimed Tapp,
surprised at Dodd's infatuation. " You don't think
the Home Guard or the Regulars will permit it
without opposition ? "
" Oh, I hope to influence the State Central Com-
mittee to call a mass meeting here for that date.
I will notify by circulars the commanders of the
Temples, who will be ordered to come, armed and
ready, as fast as possible. I will take it on myself
to release the prisoners at Camp Morton, who will
give us substantial help. We will seize the arsenal
and the person of the governor, whom we will
turn over to the Committee of Ten."
" How can you do all this on your own responsi-
bility?" asked Tapp quietly.
" By the power of my official capacity as Grand
Commander of this State ! "
THE MEETING OF THE GRAND COUNCIL 209
" I was not aware it was so great," said Tapp
" Yes ; it is vested in me to lead the uprising in
this State," and his eyes shone with gratified vanity.
" When I stick my head in a hornet's nest,"
said Tapp's neighbor, " I want to know how I 'm
goin' to get out without gettin' stung! Unfold
your plans further, if you please, Mr. Dodd."
" Oh, we '11 have plenty of outside help. While
we are at work here at Indianapolis, Captain Hines
will release the prisoners at Johnson's Island.
The southern districts will call their members to
arms to assist Buckner, who will come in from
Kentucky. Price will advance from Missouri, and
Illinois and Ohio will be ready at notice. Oh, it 's
thoroughly planned and cannot fail ! "
Tapp looked on him, astonished at his assurance.
He concluded he must be crazed, or a colossal
egotist, to imagine himself capable of successfully
executing so Napoleonic a scheme.
" Do you for an instant think you can accom-
plish this, with the military sleeping on their arms,
Morton fully informed, and an expose in cold type
at this moment ? " he asked, amazed at his fatuity.
" It remains to be seen how much they know to
expose. Probably it is not more than the disclo-
sure of the ritual, or signs and grips. That won't
amount to much. I '11 be sworn the grand object
is not known."
At this moment there was a fumbling at the
door, which caused some uneasiness, for several
210 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
persons showed signs of taking sudden departure.
The door was opened to admit a newcomer, whom
Tapp was horrified to see was Wilson. Two or
three men took occasion to leave on his entrance,
and Tapp slipped out with them. So well screened
was he by his portly neighbor that he was not
observed by Harv, who eventually took the place
on the Committee of Thirteen Tapp had jocularly
chosen for himself, and that very night helped
name the Committee of Ten " to take care of the
MRS. NEAL's guest
Frank Neal was duly discharged, and returned
home by the middle of July. He was somewhat
sobered by his experiences in the service, was more
manly, and had a closer grip on his impulses ; he
would hardly have repeated the scene in Liberty
Church now, even under provocation ; but nothing
could entirely change his active, lively tempera-
ment. His mother had looked forward to having
her boy with her, but he himself seemed to have
quite different plans. He was gone all day and
every day, and never explained the nature of his
occupation. There was a distinct separation at
this time between neighbors differing politically.
All the homely social gatherings had been aban-
doned ; the Fourth of July barbecue had not been
held. It was a time of intense political feeling,
for there were three distinct parties in the field.
McClellan was the ostensible candidate of the De-
mocracy, while Lincoln had been nominated for
reelection. Hundreds of War Democrats, fearfid
of a change of administration at what seemed the
critical point of the war, openly supported Lincoln.
Campaign meetings were almost riots. Something
212 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
of stJlen brooding in the political sky gave portent
of a terrific storm, and, like the gathering of clouds
before the impact which lets loose the thunderbolt,
there was much hurrying to and fro of Harv's
fuglemen, over whom Harv's control was now com-
plete. Frank watched these men closely, and drew
his own conclusions of future trouble.
He had made, as in friendliness bound, several
calls at the cabin, and would have been more than
pleased at the outward change in Lucetta, had he
not been absorbed in other more exciting affairs.
The mental change in the girl had been quite as
great, but when did the mental graces of a woman
ever appeal to a man with the potency of physical
beauty ? The desire of the eye must first be grati-
fied ; and fools are quite as satisfying, if they be
pretty fools, at a certain stage of man's existence.
One day early in August, Frank came in to din-
ner and said, as if he were asking the most ordinary
favor, and without a sign of embarrassment : —
" Mother, I wish you would ask Miss Abbot and
Lucetta to spend the whole of next week here."
" 'T seems to me you see enough of the girl with-
out my doing that," said his mother, with the innate
jealousy a woman feels toward one of her sex in
whom her " men-folks " take too lively an interest,
and which, doubtless. Eve felt for her first daugh-
" Why, mother, I've hardly seen Lucetta at all
since I 've been home. You know I 've been too
MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 213
" Yes, awful busy. Too busy to tell your own
mother what you 're doin'." Secrets were another
cause of discontent.
" Will it satisfy you, mother, if I say to you in
strictest confidence that, if I were to tell you what
I 'm doing, I would betray a trust fit to hang
me ? I have my orders, and those a soldier obeys.
As to Lucetta, I 've quite another motive for want-
ing her here, which you '11 find out soon enough.
Though I must say Lucetta 's got to be a mighty
good-looking girl," he added mischievously, watch-
ing her face cloud and her lips puff out in silent
Being fully aware of the condition of affairs in
the neighborhood, Mrs. Neal was able to guess
pretty accurately at Frank's motives.
" I should think it 'd be mighty unpleasant for
Lucetta to visit here when her pap all but mur-
dered us in our beds," she could not refrain from
saying, with a touch of resentful spite the unfor-
giving recipient feels toward an unloved benefactor.
She could not overlook Lucetta's parentage.
" Mother, you don't really mean what you seem
to. After all she did for us ! Besides, Lucy 's
done more than a dozen men for " — And he
broke off abruptly.
"If it comes to scolding your own mother for
that chit, I know what '11 come next. You '11 be
wanting to marry her, and disgrace us all."
" Marry ? marry ? I have n't heart to even give
it thought, when the country 's going to pieces, with
214 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
cutthroats and traitors plotting its ruin at our
very doors," said Frank hotly. " Not that Lucy
is not a good enough girl for any man," he said
sturdily, an immense concession for one of his sex,
and his mother recognized it, and said aggravat-
ingly : —
" I thought so ! "
Frank, exasperated, said no more but turned to
leave the room, and, as he opened the door and
passed over the threshold, said coldly : —
" We '11 say no more about it, mother. Sheriff
Hale will take her in." And he walked off down
toward the road to the creek, leaving Mrs. Neal
vexed with motherly jealousy, and repentant with
Mrs. Neal thought intently for some moments
about their irritating difference, and then said
aloud : —
" It 's nature, I reckon. But I do hope Frank —
First that Swazey, then that Tapp, now — Well,
I '11 go and ask her myself," which was surely as
great a self -surrender as any one is capable of,
be she of high or low degree. Moreover, she was
a mother, — one who receives a most poignant
wound when she is supplanted in the affection of
her son by another woman.
Frank proceeded to the creek, where he got into
his " dugout," and by his strong use of the paddle,
to which irritation lent force, soon covered the half
mile to the Whittaker landing.
W hen he reached the door, Lucetta was sitting
MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 215
within the room sewing busily, and until he spoke
was unconscious of his presence.
" AVhy, Frank, you walk as light as an Indian !
I never heard you. Come in."
Frank entered, and when he was seated, asked
" if the schoolmarm was at home ? "
" No, she had to go to Crof ton to obtain her
license, and she thought she might as well visit
some of her friends in town before school begins
in September. She '11 be gone two weeks."
" And you 're not afraid to stay here alone ?
You ought to be a soldier, Lucy."
" I 'd like to be, Frank. If I were a man I
would be. How men can skulk and hide and be
so afraid of the draft passes me."
" That 's not the worst of it, Lucy," said Frank
gravely. " If they did n't skulk and hide for such
treasonable purposes, the mere matter of coward-
ice would n't count. The way the women have
taken it up, too, is a wonder to me ; there 's old
Mrs. Bowles ; she could have her neck stretched
for what she 's already done and intends to do. It
is n't a woman's business."
" That 's just where you are mistaken, Frank.
You men seem to think women can't feel patriot-
ism, or enthusiasm for a cause ; that such virtues
belong only to men. I never have read much, but
Miss Abbot has been teaching me history ; and
there never has been, no, nor ever will be, a war
that we women did not feel the right and wrong of
it as strongly as men. We must bear it passively,
216 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
and stay at home in that suspense which often ends
in slow heart-break that is worse than death in
battle. Don't you know, Frank, if we could be
in the thick of it, we 'd feel the fighting frenzy as
keenly as you ? All men don't fight well. Ours
is the cruelest part in war, to receive the dead
and bury them from sight ; to see the danger and
ruin that threatens all around, and feel that we
are powerless utterly ! In such times, men push
women behind them, forget them or sneer at them,
and the flimsy veil of courtsey is dropped entirely."
Frank was abashed for a moment at this pas-
sionate outburst, and felt that his mission as pro-
tector of the weak was a sinecure. He did not
know that it was the overflow of thoughts which
had occupied her at her sewing, when a woman
who is at all reflective will ponder on all manner
of unforbidden themes that rarely find utterance.
Frank had unwittingly opened the sluice - gates,
and out rushed Lucetta's broodings in a vehement
But he rallied his manly vanity, and said pa-
tronizingly : —
" But you see, Lucy, they can't handle a mus-
ket or sword. Most of 'em faint at the sight of
" Yes, some do. But it is a woman's work to
wash away that blood and bind up those wounds,
— how well, you ought to know. The loyal women
of the North have helped the Union cause in this
dreadful war. Why, in this very county twenty
MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 217
women are running their farms, ploughing, plant-
ing, and harvesting, just like men. It is n't ' their
work,' but they can do it when it must be done."
" That 's so, Lucy. If these cowardly brutes
about here who won't go to the front would stand
by the government half as well, — which they don't,
mind you, — this war would soon be over. The
rebels themselves have exhausted their resources,
and their only hope is help from these valiant
skulkers, the Knights of the Golden Circle. Well,
the test of courage and loyalty will soon come,
and that 's what I 'm here to talk to you about."
He proceeded to explain the existing conditions,
and the inevitable issue, at which Lucy showed no
surprise ; and he finished by saying : —
" It is n't at all safe for you, or any woman, to
stay here alone for at least two weeks. By then,
we think, the danger will be past."
" I shall stay," said Lucetta qviietly.
" But, Lucy, that is foolhardy, after all I 've
" That does n't affect me personally."
" But it may, and that vitally. No, you 've got
to go ! " he said sternly.
She looked at him steadily and answered : —
" That is a word no one on earth has a right to
use to me. I am over eighteen, and there is no
one to decide my line of action but myself. I
shall stay. Besides, I 'm not afraid."
" But, Lucy," he pleaded, — "I don't mean to
dictate ; I only had in mind your safety, — it
218 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
will be like courting danger to stay here, even
with Miss Abbot ; but alone — If only mother
would " —
He stopped abruptly, warned by the flush which
rose to Lucetta's face that she had jumped to the
right conclusion, — his mother's unwillingness to
have her under her roof, even in time of danger.
" Confound it all ! " he said roughly, angry at
his own lack of tact. " Why don't you do what
I want you to ? First mother, then you ! It 's
enough to make a man hate you women, the per-
verse way you act ! Why, God only knows, — I
And he snatched his cap, and was ready to rush
from the house. At the door a sight met him that
made his jaw drop in ridiculous amazement.
Down the road, as far as his young eyes could
see, he spied an old horse jogging along easily, and
on its back a woman.
" I '11 be shot if it ain't mother ! "
And he subsided into a chair with a resigned
air that told plainly his inability to comprehend
Lucetta turned her eyes toward the same object,
and, for some perplexing reason, began to cry.
" Good Lord, Lucy ! what 're you crying about
now ? You never shed a tear, I '11 be bound, that
night you warned the sheriff."
" You are so rough, Frank ! and besides you just
as good as told me your mother wouldn't have
me in the house."
MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 219
" Why, I did n't do any such thing ! Here she
comes now, to invite you herself, I '11 bet a ten-
Lucetta looked down the road, and, as the rather
stern face of Mrs. Neal came well into view, her
own hardened, and she said coldly : —
" She is coming to say that I need n't expect
anything of the kind. I '11 go to the sheriff's first,
anyway, if I have to go."
Frank couldn't believe his ears. This gentle,
quiet girl, now so defiant, whom he had thought
almost spiritless, he had formerly passed by for
the "jolly" girls because they had more "go."
None of these would have stood out so resolutely.
He twirled his cap in perplexity. He began to
feel as if caught between two opposing skirmish
lines, and, expecting a lively engagement if Lu-
cetta and his mother came together, he meditated
" You don't know anything about it," he said,
in reply to the first part of her last speech. " But,
if she asks you, promise me you '11 go."
He was so urgent, she looked into his eager face
and his clear blue eyes, which pleaded earnestly
with her, but expressed nothing more than anxiety
for her weKare.
" Believe me, it is for your safety I ask it. Will
you promise ? "
" Yes, if she asks me," was the reluctant answer
Lucetta gave, compelled in spite of herself.
" But, Lucy," demanded the boy, " why could n't
220 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
you have said so in the first place and saved all
this fuss? I never was so nearly mad at you,"
and he laughed blithely.
" I don't know why, Frank," replied the girl
By this time Mrs. Neal had reached the big gate,
and Frank hastened out to help her dismount.
" I 've sounded her, mother, and I don't think
she wants to come," he said craftily. " I wish she
would, to keep you company. I '11 have to be
away most of the week."
Now Mrs. Neal was a woman who, while not a
hectoring one, liked to have her favors gratefully
accepted when she took the trouble to offer them,
which usually she was more than willing to do.
But in this case something undefinable held her
back ; she felt a reluctance she could not account
for, or rather would not. She had long since for-
given the injury done to them by Lucetta's father.
It was wiped out by the good works of the daughter
and the death of the parent, but there had been
little or no intercourse between them since that
calamity, now a year past.
She dismounted and was soon in the house, and
Frank walked down the little footpath toward the
creek, whistling cheerfully.
"What's this Frank tells me?" were Mrs.
Neal's first words. " He says it 's dangerous, and
you goin' to stay here," as if her son were an oracle
whose words could not be disputed. " I 'd like the
best in the world to have you next week. It '11 be
MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 221
lonesome-like, with Abner away thresMn' about the
neighborhood, and Frank gone, too. We '11 have
threshers, too, a Friday."
Both drew a little sigh of relief, characteristic of
women when an expected unpleasantness passes by
They looked into each other's eyes, — the one
with anxious questioning, the other with timid ap-
peal. They understood, if Frank did not.
" If you want me, and I can help, I '11 go,"
said Lucetta at last, gently.
"Might as well go now," urged Mrs. Neal, —
" while the horse is here. Old Vick carries dou-
Relieved at the way the affair had ended, Lu-
cetta quickly made her small preparations, packing
a change of clothing into a little carpet-bag, the
design upon which seemed made of one big red
flower. She covered the ooals, made fast the door,
and was ready. Soon they were ambling back to
Neal's, and Frank, catching sight of them as they
rode through the iron-weed standing thick in the
sandy creek-bottom, gave an exclamation of sur-
prise and said aloud : —
"Well, mother's a good one! It didn't take
her long to make the girl do what she wanted.
And Lucy, — well, Lucy 's a nice girl."
And he looked after them as they mounted the
gentle swell to the house.
The next week was the pleasantest Lucetta had
ever passed. The Neals were what is called in
222 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
the neighborhood " well off " and " good livers,"
and the visit was a welcome change. She was so
ready and helpful that, before three days had
passed, Mrs. Neal began to wonder what she should
do without her when she went home, and why she
had not missed her own girls when they married
and left her, one to live in Indianapolis, and the
other in the adjoining county. She did not take
into consideration that her strength had flagged
with advancing age in the decade during which
her girls had been established in their own homes.
Now Lucetta, whose nineteen years had been passed
in service for others, feU naturally back into her
former habit, and gave the old people a daughter's
ministration. Frank was away all day, and fre-
quently till late at night. But on the few evenings
spent at home, when they sat on the porch talking,
a completeness in the family circle made itself felt.
Frank was running over with liveliness ; the others
were cheerful. He told them stories of the bright
side of camp life, and the only thing that stopped
his flow of talk was when they asked about his
prison life. Of that he could never speak freely.
Lucetta was not a girl of superabundant spirits,
and, at that time, life for her was too serious ; but
now and then Frank could surprise from her a
girlish peal that mingled pleasantly with his father's
hearty laugh and his mother's shriller one.
Once, when they parted for the night, the young
people climbed the stairs together, Frank still
laughing and talking.
MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 223
The old husband turned to the old wife, and,
jerking his head in their direction, said : —
" Frank might do worse."
" He ain't thinking of that," said Mrs. Neal petu-
lantly. "He don't think nor dream of anything
but war and soldierin'."
" That 's all right now, but he will after a while.
He will after a while."
" Why, Abner Neal ! have you forgot " —
" Yes, I have, wife. And so '11 Frank, I reckon,"
said the old man sturdily.
A PRISONER OF WAR
On the morning of the 15th of August, Ridgely
lay as stagnant as a mill-pond under the subdued
rays of the rising sun. A hush seemed to brood
over all the processes of nature ; the birds were
silent ; the waters of Honey Creek were low from
the midsummer drought, and flowed sluggishly in
their bed ; cattle cropped listlessly ; and the people
moved about as noiselessly as if on tiptoe with
expectancy. A feeling of suspense was in the air,
diffused as ethereally as the odor of flowers at the
At the doors of many of the scattered cabins
and small wooden houses in the country and on
the outskirts of the village hung what, at first
glance, seemed a white cornucopia, such as idle
schoolboys make of the leaves of their copy-books.
A vagrant wind set them a-flutter, then straightened
them out with a smart crack to pass on and let
them fall limp again. But that brief trick of a
passing breeze displayed a tiny flag made of white
cloth, with a red ribbon running along the top and
carried down the sides, and hanging below like
A PRISONER OF WAR 225
Frank Neal was abroad early, on horseback and
on his way to Ridgely post-office, where he expected
At first sight of these mysterious rags he was
startled and felt a twinge of fear ; the next moment
it was changed to fury that found vent in bitter
imprecations, and instead of keeping on to Ridgely
he turned back, and rode at an easy trot till out of
sight of the village, when his pace was changed to
a furious gallop. On he rode till he reached the
county-seat and reported to Sheriff Hale. He then
went to the telegraph office and sent a message to
Shortly after noon that same day, the Crofton
idlers seated on the court-house fence in the shade
of the old locust-trees, some engaged in talking
over the prospect of Lincoln's reelection, others
lounging in chairs tilted back against the squatty
brick " Treasurer's Office," were attracted by a
curious measured sound, which grew louder mo-
mently until it resolved into a steady tramp, tramp.
Then came the clatter of arms and jangle of can-
teens, the flash of bayonets carried at " rest ; " then
a cloud of dust, and a company of soldiers passed
down Main Street and turned the corner out of
sight before they had recovered from their surprise
at the apparition.
A quick command to halt was given at the town
pump ; an order to break ranks and fill canteens ;
and, in as few seconds as it took to execute the
order, a crowd had collected about them, and they
226 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
were plied with questions as to why they were
there, and where they were going, questions they
either could not or would not answer.
" Them blamed Butternuts down in Honey Creek
Township is up, I reckon ! " said one citizen, spit-
ting out his tobacco in order to express himself
more freely. " Some of Harv Wilson's devilment,
The soldiers bandied jests by way of reply.
After the yoimg lieutenant in command had held
a short conference with Sheriff Hale, the order to
" fall in " was given, and the company formed in
line of march and set off, followed by several farm
wagons, whose owners had volunteered to transport
them to their goal. They were also accompanied
by old Jason Cory with his cannon, — the pride of
every boy in Crofton, — which hitherto had had
no more warlike duty than to fire a salute on the
Fourth of July or Washington's Birthday. But
the old gunner was a loyal man, and eagerly lent
his service and that of his ancient gun, which he
loved as if it were alive. Frank Neal piloted them,
and almost before the people of Crofton had recov-
ered from their surprise the company was gone.
The men kept in ranks till well out of town, then at
the command of their officer marched in irregular
order over the dusty roads, or availed themselves
of the jolting wagons. The march was leisurely,
as they wished to reach Eidgely under cover of
dusk, and encamp before the enemy knew of their
presence on the field. They had no tents, but set
A PRISONER OF WAR 227
out, like seasoned veterans as they were, in light
marching order, each man with a blanket on his
back in which to roll himself as he couched on the
Frank conducted them to a retired spot by the
secluded road that skirted the creek back of his
home. Eidgely was not visible from that point,
and here the troops would remain till they could
come up with the enemy under cover of darkness.
When Frank, who rode ahead as a scout, came in
view of their own landing, he saw the canoe shoot
swiftly out from the shore and down-stream as fast
as the sturdy strokes of a girl could paddle it.
The gay young soldiers made bets on her progress,
or remarks of admiration on her supple grace.
Frank wheeled and rode back to the young officer,
with whom he exchanged a few words. The com-
pany halted, and he dashed ahead as fast as his
jaded animal could go. His object was to inter-
cept the girl at the landing nearest the viUage ;
and he was there, and had fastened his horse to a
scrub sycamore out of her sight, before she could
tie up the canoe, which she ran into a sheltered
place in the willows, as if to hide it. Her cheeks
flamed with two red spots ; her fingers trembled so
she could hardly use them ; she looked anxious and
Frank stepped out before her as she mounted
the narrow river-path to the village, now in sight
from the high bank, and spoke to her before she
realized his presence.
228 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" Where are you going, Lucy ? I thouglit you
were to stay with mother."
She started guiltily, but words would not at
once rise to her lips.
" Have you turned traitor, too ? " said Frank bit-
terly. " By Heaven ! I 'd drown you in the creek
if I thought so ! "
" No, no ! " she cried breathlessly.
" You were going to that Copperhead camp to
" Oh, Frank, it was only that I might prevent
bloodshed. I thought I might get them to go
home if they knew the soldiers were actually here.
I tried to persuade them to, early this morning,
but they would n't listen to me. I saw you gallop
off, Frank, and I guessed that what I feared —
the uprising — had come."
" Then you knew what I 'd gone for, and would
have betrayed me, too ? "
"I did not think of betraying you, Frank. I
only thought of the murder that would be done,
when Tim Cull came in and told us Harv Wil-
son had a hundred and fifty men camped in the
meadow back of Bolser's. Then I knew you 'd
gone for the soldiers."
" And you would save them at the expense of
" By violating the honor of your State, then ? "
" The honor of my State is as dear to me as to
you, or to our governor himself. But don't you
A PRISONER OF WAR 229
understand ? How could I let these poor fools,
duped and led into this by Harv Wilson and such
men, be killed by the soldiers, or, worse, arrested
and hanged as traitors for this insurrection ? They
are my neighbors, and were my father's and mo-
ther's friends. I have known them all my life.
What do they know of the principles involved in
this war? I didn't know myself till Miss Abbot
told me. They are as ignorant as children, and
as impulsive. Their prejudices are worked on by
the leaders, who as you know are bad or fanatical
men," pleaded Lucetta.
" They know enough to be rank traitors, and
are eager to ruin our cause and break up the
Union. If they are dupes, and I admit most of
Wilson's followers are, they need a little sense
put into them, and a bullet is as good a means of
doing it as anything I know. The cursed hounds !
Infernal Copperheads ! Have I any reason to
spare them? Your friends would have burned
us all in our beds, and for what? Because we
were loyal ! They would have shot me because
I wore the blue uniform !" he urged passionately.
And you '11 not warn them. Miss ! " — with a sud-
den descent from the grandiose, — " and you '11
just turn round and go home ! " said Frank, with
that irritating air of command which men at their
wits' end assume toward women ; and he untied his
horse and led it into the path where he and Lu-
cetta had stood talking. To his intense vexation,
she continued down the path in spite of his re-
230 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
monstrance, liis command, he following until they
came into the road, fenced on the meadow side by
a " stake-and-rider."
Across the hilly field he could see smoke from
the dying camp-fires rising in the calm, moist air.
It was now twilight, and the insurgent camp lay in
profound quiet, snugly hidden, and betrayed only
by the trail of blue vapor. By climbing the rail
fence it could be reached by a short cut. Frank
urged Lucetta no farther, but led his horse close to
the fence, and stepping on a lower rail said shortly :
" Climb up here and I '11 point out the camp of
your precious friends, if you must go to them,
house-burners, assassins, cutthroats as they are ! "
" Frank, I feel it my sacred duty to warn them."
She looked firmly into his eyes, shining with
anger. Both were determined and actuated by
their ideas of duty and honor ; a man's will pitted
against a woman's ; neither willing to yield. He
sat on the top rail, with one leg thrown across the
fence, looking down at her expectantly. An in-
sidious smile broke the gravity of his young face
for an instant, which as swiftly grew stern. Her
mood was one of calm exaltation, which exasper-
ates a man when opposed to his own, and utterly
routs all his powers of persuasion.
"Well," said Frank shortly, "give me your
hand ; now step up. Wait till I get on the top
rail." He stood up where the rails crossed, and
reached down his hand to her. His horse stood
with drooping head close by.
A PRISONER OF WAR 231
Lucetta, embarrassed by his help offered in an
act she had performed alone all her life, did as she
With a sharp jerk he brought the horse along-
side, flung himself into the saddle, and, before she
had time to realize his intent, clasped Lucetta, who
was on the top of the fence, in both arms, lifted
her to a place before him on the saddle, and hold-
ing her fast, said exultantly : —
" You 're a prisoner of war ! All 's fair in love
and war, Lucy, and there 's a little of both in
this ! "
With a shake of the bridle he was off, and when
they reached the house he coolly locked her in a
room up-stairs which had but one window, and that
one from which it would be dangerous to jump.
He knew too well Lucetta's firmness when the
idea of duty possessed her, and he had no other
resource but to make her a veritable prisoner.
He passed through the kitchen to find his mother
and inform her of his capture, but she was busy
with the milk at the spring-house and he failed
to see her. He returned to the soldiers, and, in
the excitement of pitching camp, entirely forgot
his irritation, Lucetta, everything, indeed, but the
With much shrewdness, Harv Wilson had se-
lected the position for his camp. His sole pur-
pose had been to keep out of sight ; but he had
not taken into consideration, as a trained soldier
would have done, its possibilities of successful de-
fense in case of surprise from an enemy.
He had chosen a horseshoe-shaped dell, about
fifty yards across, covered with a fine thick turf of
blue grass eaten short by the cattle. It was sur-
rounded by hills, which rose in a gentle ascent to
the right and left, but almost like an escarpment
in the rear, where its green walls reached the
greatest height. One standing at that point could
look down on the camp and see its every move-
ment. The opening of the horseshoe was quite
narrow and was the outlet to the road. Within
its confines were encamped about one hundred and
fifty men, for the most part farmers and laborers,
closely crowded between the green walls. Just
what was expected of them, none knew intelligibly
except the leaders, whose knowledge was not too
The expose had not proved serious, as Dodd had
THE UPRISING 233
predicted ; it had not penetrated to tlie innermost
secrets, nor laid bare the purposes of the organiza-
tion ; so that the original intention of an uprising
for August 16th was not abandoned.
The Knights of Riffle and Honey Creek town-
ships had gone into camp, as ordered by the Grand
Council, and were waiting to be joined by Price
from the West and by Buckner from the South ;
and they were in constant expectation of a courier
to inform them of the advance of one or both of
these forces, or of orders to march to the capital
independently of these, and fall in with other
Knights whom they might overtake. They had
reached a state of such fanaticism that they enter-
tained no doubt of success.
As the sun sank behind the hills across Honey
Creek, it was a picturesque sight to see their blaz-
ing camp-fires ; for the August nights were chilly
and the mists from the creek cold. The white
walls of several large tents were fitfully displayed
in the flickering light. The floors of these tents
were thickly overlaid with fresh straw, and each
man found for himself a bed in any one he fan-
cied, or lay under the wagons that had transported
the camp fittings. Those who disliked the too
close quarters of the tents rolled themselves in a
blanket and lay on the ground. Worn out with
unusual excitement, the men soon sought their
Harv Wilson had grown more and more anxious
as the evening advanced and no courier had ar-
234 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
rived. He called about him two or three men,
who were his inferior officers, and said : —
" I don't know what to make of this. I was
ordered by Dodd to be ready to move at sundown.
He said he 'd send Captain Athon to lead us
where he wanted us."
" Somethin' seems wrong," observed the first
lieutenant, who flourished a corn-knife for a sword.
" 'Pears like, " observed the second lieutenant.
" What ye goin' to do, Harv?"
Harv, who was now captain, frowned at this
breach of discipline and said : " Go to bed ! I 'm
" What ! without sentries ? " exclaimed the first
lieutenant, who had been in the army and dishon-
" See to postin' 'em yourself ! " said Harv an-
grily. " I 'm goin' to bed."
As the camp settled into repose, the low murmur
of voices fell into silence, and gave place to the
loud insistent fiddling of amorous katydids, and
the shrilling of crickets. Occasionally the bark of
a restless dog was heard. Over them hung a black-
blue sky, into which they gazed as from a well at a
circle of star-studded space. About midnight the
waning moon rose above the highest hill enclosing
the camp. The movement of sentries could be
heard, but later they too fell asleep, unused to
watching, and worn out by unwonted excitement.
Up the side of the hill to the northeast three
men crept cautiously. They climbed it obliquely
THE UPRISING 235
to the highest point that hung above the encamp-
ment. This reached, they threw themselves prone
on the ground, peering into the stronghold of the
They were Frank Neal, a young corporal, and
the young lieutenant in command.
Frank rapidly and accurately explained the posi-
tion, and the lieutenant laid his plans accordingly.
They then returned to their own bivouac, half a
mile away, as secretly as they had come.
At four o'clock the mist from Honey Creek filled
the valley ; like a moist veil, it fell over hills and
woods, leaving nothing clearly visible. The cocks
were crowing shrilly and jays were screaming, but
these were the only signs of dawn. Yet in the en-
campment on the by-road there were quiet move-
ments of some kind. A small squad of men defiled
to the right, and disappeared in the mist as silently
as ghosts. Another followed in a few moments,
and was swallowed up in the same mysterious
way. A third moved to a position in front of the
horseshoe behind which lay Harv's slumbering fol-
lowers, and formed in line across the opening.
All these movements were completed before the
first sun-rays streaked the sky. The sun rose a
little after five, but the heavy mists delayed the
dawning, which deepened into gray light slowly.
A sound of furious galloping bestirred the slum-
bering camp, for the sensitive mist-charged atmo-
sphere carried sound into the little dell with loud
236 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
The young lieutenant had placed two sentinels
two hundred yards down the road, behind the great
white trunks of some sycamores, which hid them
from the camp, but gave them full view of the
road. One of these was Frank Neal. As the
sound of the galloping drew nearer, the men looked
to their arms, and, as a jaded horse came in sight
at a forced gallop from which speed was spent,
they sprang from their places, threw the horse on
his haunches, and forced him to halt. Before the
amazed rider could realize his situation, a gun was
thrust in his face through the mist, a challenge
given, and strong hands dragged him to the ground.
" Vallandigham," the horseman answered, un-
" I guess you 're the fellow we want, if you don't
give the right password ! I 've orders to search
him, corporal," said Frank to the other soldier.
He rapidly examined the courier, and found a
slip of paper, which there had been no attempt to
conceal. On it was a single sentence : —
" Look out for a drove of mules."
" Ah, cipher ! " said Frank. " My young man,
we '11 call on you to read the riddle."
" I refuse ! " said the bearer sturdily.
" I guess you 'd better think over your refusal,"
said Frank, placing a revolver to the fellow's head.
" I '11 give you two minutes ! "
The courier was not a soldier, and gasped out in
horrified astonishment : —
" Why, you would n't shoot a feller, would you ? "
THE UPRISING 237
" That 's orders ! " said Frank grimly. " This
is war ! War of your own making, too ! So talk
up briskly, my man."
"It was from Colonel Heffren, of the 3d, to
warn Harv Wilson Abe Lincoln's soldiers were
" Oh, they 're the ' mules,' are they ? " said
Frank. The fellow grinned and nodded an assent.
The horse, freed, slackened its pace to a weary
walk, and, by the time Frank had made his capture,
it had crept between the lines into the camp of the
insurgents, from whence it had caught the neigh of
one of its kind and feebly answered. This startled
the camp like a loud alarm.
As if by preconcerted signal, the men sprang
from their tents, formed into confused groups,
ready for they knew not what, just as the sun shot
up over the hill, lifting the baffling cloud of mist.
Before their astonished eyes, at the mouth of the
dell, was planted a cannon, and, as it seemed to
their startled senses, there stretched endlessly a
line of blue-clad soldiers, with guns at "ready,"
standing still as if carved in stone. They turned
mechanically to climb the less steep hills, to find
there also a line of soldiers, with bayonets fixed,
thrown round the dell. So skillfully had the
troop been placed that it commanded every point
of escape, as Harv Wilson was quick to compre-
He had no means of finding out their numbers.
He was no coward, but was shrewder than his fol-
238 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
lowers, and he advised them to lay down their
arms and make peaceable surrender.
This counsel had a curious effect, for it roused
most of them to frenzy, and they rushed toward
the line of soldiery, armed with corn-knives, pitch-
forks, billets of wood, anything they coidd catch
up. Those who had guns shot recklessly, and for
a few moments the wildest commotion ensued. A
quick volley from the troops, fired over their heads,
had a calming effect. Seizing the opportunity,
Wilson went among them, cursing the mutinous,
encouraging the timid, until by degrees he brought
them under his control and made them understand
the uselessness of resisting trained soldiers.
*' We '11 have help inside of an hour from Price
or Buckner. Just keep cool, and let 'em think
we 're beat," Harv exhorted. " That horse is
Billy Hines's, and he was to bring the word as
soon as they had crossed the state line."
This encouraged those who were in a mood to be
reasoned with, and they stood in sullen groups, not
yet fully able to grasp the situation.
In the midst of it all, Frank Neal came into
camp, and, going up to Wilson, said, so that all
might hear : —
"Harv, I 've a communication for you," and he
passed over a dirty scrap of paper.
Harv read it, and his bloated face turned pale,
as a visionary noose dangled before his eyes. But
there was a heroic strain in him, and he bore it
well and stanchly.
THE UPRISING 239
" It's all up with us, boys ! " he said to his fol-
lowers. Then he turned to Frank and asked : —
" Who 's your commanding officer ? "
" Lieutenant B "
" He 's played it smart. Tell him I surrender.
But, Frank, use your influence with him to let
these fools go home. Don't half of them know
what they're here for."
" I don't know what Lieutenant B 's orders
are on that point, but I '11 carry your message to
Frank scaled the steep hill opposite the point
where the cannon was planted, and found the
young officer standing there, watching the scene
below. He was laughing softly as Frank came to
" It seems to be a bloodless victory, Neal," he
" Yes," assented Frank. " But they would not
have yielded so easily but for this." And he
handed him the bit of paper that had so affected
The officer read it and remarked, "Well?"
" The fools were really in earnest," exclaimed
B . " I knew there was devilment of some
sort afoot. We are sent out every week or so to
suppress local troubles. But, by Heaven, I did n't
think it would reach insurrection in such an out-of-
the-way place as this ! "
The lieutenant descended the hill and took for-
240 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
mal possession of the camp. Acting on orders
from headquarters in such cases, he dismissed the
rank and file to their homes, frightened and crest-
fallen, with an indeterminate sentence hanging over
them. Harv would be held as a prisoner of war,
carried back to Crofton, and placed in the jail
there, to be held till wanted by the authorities.
Athon and Miller, his lieutenants, had a like sen-
In the midst of breaking camp a diversion was
made. In some inscrutable way the news had
flown far and wide that the soldiers had come, and
on the road a crowd of tearful women, and fright-
ened children, and a few silent men had gathered.
Suddenly these made way for some one. It was
old Mrs. Bowles, roughly crowding the women and
trampling the children in her haste to reach the
camp. She passed the sentinels In contempt, in
spite of bayonets presented, to which she gave no
more heed than so many hickory goads.
She marched straight up to Harv, who was a
prisoner under guard, violently shook her fist in
his face, and raged like a lioness.
" We might 'a' known we could n't trust you,
Harv Wilson. You never had no sand In your
craw. You make a big splashin' In shallow water.
All you 're fittin' fer is to bully men like Whitta-
ker, and rob widders aJawIn'. You deserve the
gallows, and thank God you '11 git your wages.
You never was true to the cause, an' I spit on
THE UPRISING 241
She violently did so, before two soldiers could
lay hands on her to lead her out of the lines, jerk-
ing and raging.
The young officer had a keen sense of the ridic-
ulous, and had watched this scene with amused
astonishment, till he recovered sufficiently to have
" It seems the women would fight ! " he remarked
with emphasis that caused "Wilson to shoot an
envenomed glance at him.
After a hasty breakfast the troops set out for
Crof ton with their three prisoners, who were turned
over to Sheriff Hale, and the great uprising in
Middle County ended without a drop of blood being
CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR
It was with a feeling o£ utter humiliation that
Lucetta saw the door closed and locked, and Frank
depart without a word o£ excuse or regret. She
heard him run noisily down the stairs, slam a door ;
then silence. The next few hours she passed in
abasement so great she hardly moved a muscle or
uttered a sound. The thought of the indignity to
which she had been subjected kept running through
her mind faster than the water in Honey Creek,
whose fretting she could distinctly hear as it crossed
the riffle at the ford.
As the hours passed on and the house grew
quieter and no one came to her rescue, she realized
with intenser shame, if possible, that Frank had
forgotten her. She had no means of knowing he
was in camp with the soldiers.
Lucetta's dealings with men had given her little
knowledge of them that would apply to one like
Frank, who, compared to the dwellers in this out-
of-the-way place, had seen life, busy, active, stirring
life. Her father was the least virile of his sex,
although springing from sturdy Scottish stock ; and
she may have dimly realized this lack of manly
CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR 243
vigor, though a merciful Providence never permits
a daughter the unsparing view of strangers in such
cases. A large charity covered all Zeb's shortcom-
ings, and only a remembrance of his unfailing gen-
tleness and natural courtesy remained ; this had
been cherished and idealized in his daughter's
memory. Strangely enough, his weakness had no
effect in shaping her belief of what a man should be.
If it were possible for men to catch a spiritual
glimpse of those ideals of maidenhood which girls
create and endow from their own pure hearts, how
warped and ignoble the real would seem ! Nothing
human could fill them. They rise to the stature
of gods, whose devotees are so engaged in looking
up that their glance rarely falls upon the feet of
clay. Lucetta had unconsciously endowed Frank
She could not sleep, but after hours of endur-
ance her torturing mood of abasement passed like
a paroxysm of pain. She felt a softer one take its
place in her heart and wondered at it, and, with
self -questioning peculiar to lonely women, analyzed
it with painful accuracy. She realized that she
was not as angry with Frank as she should have
been, and a new fear and shame tormented her ;
she cherished no delusions concerning his regard
for her, but she had fostered others, unwittingly,
in regard to herself.
Lonely, unsought, set apart for service from
childhood like a Vestal, no man had felt for her
the delicate tenderness, the special affection her
244 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
fastidious nature demanded, which, if she could
not attain, she was strong enough to forego. The
coarse advances of a man like Swazey disgusted
and terrified her. She realized with an abashing
clearness that she coveted Frank's regard ; she
even confessed to herself, in that dreary vigil, a
longing to inspire in him a feeling finer than a
mere boy-and-girl fondness, which on her part was
a fondness that had sprung to the full stature of
love. In the flash of revelation she saw it, and
shut it in, for she could not thrust it out of her
pure, unselfish, longing heart. This night's rough
treatment plainly proved that Frank had no ten-
der feeling for her. His mind and soul were filled
with ambition and the lust of fighting, and he
longed for success in war, not love. She experi-
enced a woman's resentful jealousy at being over-
looked and neglected, while she chid herself for
harboring the unlawful thought.
Frank's nature was as open as the day ; he pos-
sessed quick sympathy, easy forgetfulness of an-
noyance, a rollicking gallantry that induced him to
make laughing love to every pretty girl he met.
The soldier's assurance made him confident of their
admiration, and not many disappointed him. Yet
there was a strong side to his character not often
roused, — the heritage of a high sense of duty, and
that puritanical conscience which occasionally called
The development of the sentimental side of his
character had been arrested by the hard realities
CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR 245
of war and the absorbing demands of military-
ambition. If he had ever thought of Lucetta, it
was with gratitude for her timely help, and to
pity her, superjfieially, for having such a worthless
father and sickly mother, — and, now that Prov-
idence had removed them, there was no longer
reason even for this compassion ; sympathy for her
loneliness was now his strongest feeling. As a
schoolboy, he had defended her against the rough-
ness of other lads ; but he had been unequal to
the task of protecting her from the sly flings of
the girls, of which, indeed, he was ignorant, and at
which he would probably have laughed with the cal-
lousness of a boy unsuspecting a girl's sensitiveness.
But Frank was one of Nature's lance-breakers, and
the object was always a secondary matter.
In the shriving Lucetta gave her heart that
night, she did not overlook one bitter fact. When
Frank was rough, and had forcibly prevented her
carrying out her intention, and disdained her idea
of duty, she was angry because he did it ; in an-
other, she would have passed it by without resent-
ment or resistance. When he had laughingly
called her strong-minded, as she timorously un-
folded her plans for seK-improvement to him alone,
she was wounded that he was not more sympa-
thetic. He regaled her with the pranks that had
engaged him at college, and she had thought him
lacking in love of knowledge, and was disappointed
in him. But when he related enthusiastically his
war experiences, showing greater desire to defeat
246 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
the enemy than devotion to the principles involved
in the war, she was shocked, and the escapades in
camp and on the march sounded coarse, even bru-
tal ; but she put it all out of her mind. She con-
doned the fault because of the sinner. She had
not realized that her imaginary hero had taken on
mortal form until the harrowing fact was revealed
in the long hours of her imprisonment, and the
shame of the consciousness of unsought love was
hers. Self - contempt and stern resolution would
not banish from her mind the face that had looked
at her as he thrust her inside the door with rough
haste. Cheeks flushed with excitement, eyes shin-
ing with satisfaction, his lips smiling with exulta-
tion at his success in frustrating her design, — that
was all she saw. The crowning insult was the only
good-by he had given her : —
" You '11 not meddle with what don't concern
you, in here."
As the hours of her imprisonment grew longer,
her pride, — heaven's most precious gift to woman
to sustain her against the hurt of the indifference
or cruelty of man, — till then latent, came to her
help. Instinct taught her on the instant that a
show of preference from her would be received by
him with contempt, dislike, even hate.
Tired out, she slept fitfully for an hour or so.
At dawn she heard the quick volley from the
camp, and the confused sounds that followed, and
every other emotion was swallowed up in fear for
CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR 247
As the day advanced to evening again and she
was not released, her feelings underwent another
change. She resented the neglect that kept her
a prisoner twenty-four hours without food or drink.
The house was large ; the little room was remote
from the living-room, and seldom used except when
they had company. She was certain Mrs. Neal
knew nothing of her presence under her roof, for
she had told her that she would stay the night
with Mrs. Rush.
Resentful stubbornness dislodged every tender
emotion, and she resolved to remain there, without
making outcry or appeal for release, till Frank him-
self remembered her, though she starved ; and very
real pangs of hunger reminded her how painful
such a fate would be.
At six o'clock Frank came home, tired and tri-
umphant, and, as he wiped his face on the long
roller towel in the kitchen, he vivaciously recounted
to his father and mother the outcome of the famous
His mother said at the conclusion : —
" I hope Lucetty ain't scared to death ! She
went to see Mrs. Rush yesterday evening after
supper, and told me she did n't know when she 'd
" Lucetta — Lucetta! " stammered Frank. " Good
Lord ! I 'd forgotten all about her ! "^ And he
dashed out of the room, fumbling for the key in
his pocket, not heeding his mother's cry, —
248 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" Why, is the boy crazy ? "
He rushed up the stairway to the little room,
turned the key in the lock, but on trying the door
found he could not get in. It was fastened on the
inside, and he remembered how he had put the
old-fashioned bolt on the door because his sister
Sally had been afraid of burglars when she came
home on a visit.
" Lucy ! Lucy ! " he called. There was no an-
" She could n't have jumped out of the window.
It would have broken her neck or crippled her,"
he meditated. Then he shook the door vigorously,
but to no purpose.
" Open the door ! Don't be such a fool ! " he
Silence. All he heard was his mother calling to
know what he meant.
He waited a little longer, then said aloud, ap-
prehensively : —
" She could n't have died of fright. Girls are
such cowards! "
A recollection of Lucetta's deeds of courage
flashed through his mind and disproved this opin-
" This one is n't," he mused, " but they are all
stubborn ! " recalling contests of will with his sis-
" Lucy," he said, with sweet persuasion, " please
open the door ; I 'm sorry I forgot you." No reply.
" Damn it all ! I '11 break down this door if you
CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR 249
don't open it ! " And a series of vigorous kicks
gave proof of the sincerity of his threat. The gal-
lant soldier had turned bully. He heard the bolt
click, and he expected a different sight from the
one that met him. He knew girls cried. " Sniv-
eled " he called it. But this one did not. She
was exceedingly pale, but perfectly composed, and
her eyes rested on his coldly. With compressed
lips she passed him, and started for the stairway
in unbroken silence.
Her cold glance made him feel as if a sabre had
slashed him, and he involuntarily winced from the
imaginary wound. His nature was demonstrative
and must find outlet in words, which were wont
to overflow from his lips as easily as the spring
branch over its banks in a freshet.
" Lucy, I 'm sorry you 've been shut up twenty-
four hours. Why did n't you call mother ? She
would have given you something to eat over the
transom." Amused at the idea, he laughed.
Lucy passed down the hall, but he intercepted
"You don't mean that you are really mad at
me ? " he asked, his Irish blue eyes looking as sad
and appealing as they had been merry and amused
the moment before.
The sealed lips did not unclose, nor the cold
"Won't you speak to me, Lucy?" he pleaded
in that winning way that had melted many a girl
250 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" Yes, this once. Then I '11 never speak to you
again ! You ridiculed my ideas of duty ; you
impeached my loyalty ; you believed me a traitor,
for you said so ; you insulted my womanhood " —
Frank tried to interrupt her, but she would not
" No, don't try to make idle excuses ! Like
other men, you cheapen a woman's patriotism ; you
regard her idea of duty as a whim ; her love of
country as child's prattle, to be listened to with in-
dulgence and checked when grown tiresome. You
have no real respect for me, and treated me with
violence almost ruffianly ! After all this, you ex-
pect me to act as though you had done nothing !
No, I '11 not have anything to do with you nor
your people. Your mother hates me ; and yester-
day your father said, ' Thank God, my girl, you 're
not like your father ! ' He despises me ! But you
— you do aU that, and more ! "
She ran down the stairs, leaving Frank in greater
disorder than if he had met the enemy and had
been worsted. Before he recovered she had left
When he crept crestfallen into the kitchen, it
was to find his father chuckling at his defeat, and
his mother dazed and frightened, looking after the
Frank then explained, whereupon old Abner
said : —
" No wonder the girl 's mad ! But, 'pears to me,
she licked you worse 'n you did the Butternuts ! "
CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR 251
" It 'pears to me," said Mrs. Neal tartly, " she 's
an ungrateful hussy ! "
" That 's the last word that should be applied to
Lucy, mother ! " Frank said warmly, and he took
his way to the barn with his hands in his pockets,
whistling softly between his teeth, to think it over.
And his mother exclaimed, " Did you ever ! "
This outburst of Lucetta's surprised Frank and
made him feel uncomfortable, but it created in
him the respect she had found wanting, and he
recognized with a boy's slow perception that per-
haps a girl might be brave ; might have earnest
convictions ; and that her compassion for the igno-
rant dupes of Harv Wilson was, after all, praise-
worthy. With his characteristic impulsiveness, he
wanted to tell her so, and resolved to do it the
But in that he was disappointed, for the latch-
string of the cabin was not out, nor could he find
it so on the days that followed.
During tlie fortnight after the "battle," as it
was thereafter called in that vicinity, Frank's time
was taken up with the necessary legal proceedings
against the insurgents. Notwithstanding his pre-
occupation, he had tried many times to make his
peace with Lucetta, but in vain. He had even
written to her imploring recognition, at least ; for
she had passed him in the road as she would have
done a total stranger. He sent the note by Zeke,
the bound boy, but it had been returned intact.
Opposition of this kind acts differently on men of
dissimilar temperaments. It rouses the pertinacity
of some, kills the interest of others. In Frank it
had the first effect ; but, to his infinite amazement,
he had found one woman who was not amenable to
his wishes. For a youth of his age, Frank had had
no small share of flirtation, " sparking " they called
it in the vernacular. It dated back to the time of
his first fine Sunday suit presented on his sixteenth
birthday. It was such gay, honest, open trifling
that he had won the reputation of " meanin' no-
thing," and the neighborhood belles repaid him in
kind. After entering coUege his manner toward
them turned to friendliness, for he could no longer
enter into their roi-gh fun with his former zest,
and when he enlisted in the army his interest in
them dwindled to the smallest. But he was per-
fectly aware that there was no decline in their
admiration for him, and he accepted it carelessly.
The girls, on their part, felt something lacking
in their present relations, — but what, they were
not ^cute enough to discover. They accepted the
change without resentment, and, had not Frank
enlisted at the most opportune moment, he stood a
fair chance of becoming that most odious of crea-
tures, a woman-spoiled man.
Frank's taste in the matter of female character
and deportment had been modified insensibly dur-
ing his four years in college by association with the
daughters of the professors, whom he met at " mite
societies" and sophomore and senior class-parties.
The contrast was to the immense advantage of the
latter, but Frank was too kindly and loyal to his
earlier friends to own it.
He had always heard Lucetta spoken of by the
neighbors as "old for her age," without really
knowing what they meant by the phrase. The
girls had called her " uppety," which was clearer
to him ; but he good-naturedly defended her from
that accusation, which could have hardly been
made worse, for it included everything they re-
sented, — lack of humility, lack of sociability, and
too good an opinion of one's self to the unspoken
disparagement of others.
254 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
Discriminating taste in the quality of woman's
character is almost the last thing very young men
acquire ; some never do acquire it, and it was to
Frank's credit he was so discerning in this case.
He recognized in Lucetta a natural refinement and
a delicacy which made it impossible to treat her
with the rather bold freedom of manner he dis-
played toward the other girls in the neighborhood.
He had been, hitherto, a sort of conquering hero
to them, and that Lucetta should defy him, for
some painful idea of duty, irritated and surprised
him into a roughness toward her that made him
first ashamed and then remorseful. If she had
forgiven him at once, he would have forgotten ex-
peditiously the offense and even the pardon ! But
when she would have nothing to say to him, and
declined to listen to his speeches, his impetuous
nature carried him to the other extreme, and he
determined to force from her that clemency which
had never been denied him before by her sex.
Her cold repudiation of his efforts at reconciliation
chafed and fretted him, and strengthened his de-
termination that it should be accomplished. His
father's acrid gibing kept him to his resolution,
which otherwise would have surely flagged when
new interests came up, incident to the arrest and
imprisonment of the prime movers of the insurrec-
tion. He had given more earnest thought to Lu-
cetta in these two weeks than to all the girls he
had ever known, put together.
He was aware of her ardent ambition and stead-
fastness in following a course which had led her at
last to the goal of hev aspirations. He depreciated
her tendency to strong-mindedness, as a very young
man does in the case of young women who have
not the patience to wait for him to pick and choose,
before embracing ambitious projects.
Meantime he had determined to reenlist for a
year, in accordance with the new call of the Presi-
dent. True to his Celtic blood, there was for him
no keeping out of the fight as long as it raged.
Now there was a fair prospect for promotion, and
he hoped to become a lieutenant. He set Satur-
day to go to Crofton, where there was a recruiting
officer, to carry out his purpose. Early that morn-
ing he stopped at the blacksmith's to have a bolt
tightened in his buggy, which Zeke, who was with
him, was to bring back home.
While Alec was busy with the job, he joined in
the trifling gossip going on in the pauses of the
game of quoits, the invariable amusement at the
" Going back to the army, are you, Frank ? "
asked the "hand," as he beat the sparks from a
shoe he was shaping.
" Yes ; I start as soon as Alec finishes this job."
" Should think you 'd had enough o' war ! Three
years is 'nuff for most folks."
" Well, to tell the truth. Alec, it unsettles a
man, after he has once tasted the excitement of its
risks and constant change. It 's life ! This is
stagnation ! "
256 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
" No danger of you settlin' down on the farm
with a nice, hard-workin' girl ! " laughed Alec.
" None, that I see at present."
" You and Lueetty quittin' the neighborhood
the same day seems kind o' queer ! " observed Alec
By this time, the whole neighborhood knew the
smallest particulars of their affair.
" Is she going to-day ? " he asked with surprise
" Yes ; schoolma'am 's come to board with us
this winter. She 's up to the house now, cryin' fit
" Lucy has n't gone already ? "
" Yes, Uncle Laws Moore took her and her
trunk in the little spring wagon at sun-up. He 's
carrying some peaches to town, too. Like 's not
he '11 get her left. Rock 's so turrible slow."
" Where 's she going ? "
" She 'lows to go to Crofton, and take the stage
for Waveland. She 's goin' to the Academy to
learn to be a teacher."
" Miss Abbot 's at your house now, you say ?
" Guess I '11 step up and see her. Hurry up
that job, Alec ! "
Frank started up the hill to the house, and
Alec's meditative eye followed him as he quickly
" 'Pears like there is somethin' nearly as inter-
estin' as war to that chap, after all. I heerd she
would n't speak to him after the rumpus ! Lu-
cetty 's gritty," and Alec laughed softly.
Frank reached the open door and found Miss
Abbot just within the tidy sitting-room, swaying
to and fro in the little rocking-chair, mournfully
It was barely seven o'clock, but all the morning
work was done, and Mrs. Rush was busy with her
soap-boiling in the back yard.
" Good morning. Miss Abbot. Alec tells me
Lucy 's gone. Is it true ? " said Frank, rushing
to the point with his usual impulsiveness.
Before answering, Miss Abbot wiped her eyes,
which were deep pink around the lids.
" Yes, she went with Uncle Laws at half past
" She — she did n't leave any word for me, did
she ? " he asked hesitatingly. Frank had sent her
a long letter two days before, informing her of his
intention to reenlist, begging her forgiveness in
view of the fact that they might never meet again,
and had received no answer whatever ; but he felt
hopeful, for, this time, she had not returned it.
" No," said Miss Abbot with faint surprise.
" I might as well tell you. Miss Abbot, if Lucy
has n't already," and he paused, — " she 's mad at
me ! " He said it so frankly, and was so openly
troubled. Miss Abbot would have smiled had she
not been so sorrowful herself.
" She told me nothing about it ; she has never
mentioned you to me."
258 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
Frank was a little mortified, but relieved too,
and reflected that Lucetta had the rare virtue of
keeping her affairs to herself.
" You say she went with Uncle Laws ? At the
rate old Rock travels, they must be almost to
Chambers' Mill," said Frank reflectively.
The foundation of Rock's reputation was just
the reverse of Flora Temple's, but in that vicinity
his fame was wider spread.
" So Lucy is determined to be a teacher ? " he
" Yes, and I know of no one who has as many
of the qualities that go to make a good one," said
the spinster. " So gentle, yet so firm, patient,
and intelligent, and with such perseverance. She
studied so faithfully and learned so quickly and
thoroughly. She was a model daughter, and " —
faltered Miss Abbot tearfully — " she was so kind
to me ! I don't know what I '11 do without her."
" I 'm afraid you '11 not find many friends here
as congenial," said Frank warmly. " But I must
go. I expect Alec 's got my buggy ready by this
time. I'm going to town myself. Miss Abbot.
If I should overtake them, and it 's likely I will,
have you any message for Lucy ? "
Miss Abbot seemed to remember something, for
she went to the bureau and took from the top of
it a white envelope.
"Yes; tell her she left this," and Miss Abbot
waved before Frank's mortified eyes his repentant
" She could n't have read it, as It Is n't opened,"
" I '11 be sure to catch up with them. Give it
to me, and I '11 deliver it to her," he said aloud.
He took it from Miss Abbot's hand, and, thrust-
ing it into his breast pocket, went back to the
shop, where he found the repairs finished. In a
few moments he was whirling along the same road
Lucetta had taken two hours before. It was the
first week of September, and the air was fuU of
that languorous heat which ripens the late fruit.
The atmosphere was of the pale-yellow glow so
characteristic of that month. It was what Alec
in his utter satisfaction had called a " big yaller
day." The tops of the distant trees that " kept
company" with Honey Creek were swathed in
pale-blue haze, which softened their jagged out-
lines into tenderest beauty. From the woods on
either hand came the fragrance of ripe wild grapes
and the unique odor of maturing pawpaws. Whiffs
of pennyroyal were borne on dewy puffs of wind
that stirred the beeches under which it grew. The
birds were a-tune again after their August silence.
The " bottoms " were gorgeous with the kingly
color of iron-weed and the glowing yellow of gold-
But Frank was not interested In anything na-
ture had to exhibit that lovely morning. He drove
rapidly in mortified silence, grunting by way of
answer to the garrulous boy beside him. He kept
his eyes on the sandy road ahead, and flicked the
260 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
lines on the back of his willing mare, urging her
to greater speed. When he reached the top of
the long steep hill where the track led down to
the creek, he checked his horse to a walk. The
road that descended the hill was an old Indian
trail, and gradually "sidled," as cows do, instead
of plunging straight down to the creek. For this
reason the ford was hidden for the greater part of
the descent, and it was not until Frank had nearly
reached the bottom of the hill that a sight pre-
sented itself which caused him to splash quickly
through the stream, and brought from him an ex-
clamation : —
" Hello, Uncle Laws ! In trouble ? "
Uncle Laws was pounding with a stone on the
tire of one of his front wheels, the pair of which
spread out as if making ready to squat on the
Lucetta had dismounted and stood near, anx-
iously watching the results of his labor. But the
old man could do nothing with it; the antique
vehicle was too frail to withstand the sturdy blows
he dealt ; and the wheel collapsed and left the
wagon a-tilt on the other three, utterly useless for
" Too bad. Uncle Laws ! We '11 have to put a
rail under it, and you can drag it back home,"
said Frank, who had alighted and was examining
" Yes," quavered Uncle Laws. " I ain't a-carin'
for me and the peaches, but Lucetty here wants to
ketch the stage for Waveland that goes oat 'bout
noon from Crofton."
Frank looked toward Lucetta, and said, after a
little hesitation : —
" I can take Lucy on in my buggy, and maybe
we can fasten the trunk on behind."
The trunk in question was a tiny old-fashioned
one, covered with cowhide, on which the dark-red
hair had been left, and was thickly studded with
" I 'd go back with Uncle Laws if — How
far are we from home ? " Lucetta asked.
" About four miles," said Frank, so gravely that
it led one to suspect he was making an effort to
keep from laughing at Rock's gait.
" Yes, Lucetty," said the old man, " you jist git
in with Frank. It 's too bad to disappoint you.
It don't matter about me and the peaches."
" We can crowd the peaches in, too, Uncle
Laws," said Frank kindly. " What do you want
done with them? "
The old man explained, and Frank listened at-
tentively, promising to fulfill his behests.
This kindliness was a new phase of Frank's
character to Lucetta. Though unwillingly, she
could not but admire it, and this, together with her
urgent wish to catch the stage, overcame her obdu-
racy, and induced her to accept a seat in Frank's
buggy. He was perfectly aware of her reluctance,
but ignored it, satisfied that she did accept it on
any terms. It seemed a step toward reconciliation.
262 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
They crowded the bag of peaches under the seat,
and strapped the little trunk on behind with one
of Uncle Laws's lines. After Frank had helped
the old man, and had seen him and Zeke safely up
the hill, they, too, set off.
At first there was silence between them, but
a man as impulsive as Frank could not keep his
tongue still very long.
" Bad for Uncle Laws, but lucky for me," he
observed, with an attempt at jocularity which was
belied by his evident nervousness.
Lucetta made no reply.
" Lucky for you too, Lucy, only you won't ac-
knowledge it. You 'd have caught the stage about
three o'clock at the speed old Rock was making."
Unwillingly Lucetta smiled faintly, but it was
a breaking up of the stern gravity of her face and
" Look here, Lucy ! You might forgive me.
I 've done everything a fellow can do in the way
of apology. You know I 'm sorry."
" You know you are not," she replied, with a
burst of rash heat. " You know you 'd do it again,
if you had the chance."
A grievance aired, like some chemicals at the
first exposure to the atmosphere, boils over before
it can reach a pacific state. The situation between
Frank and Lucetta was such as to induce an ex-
plosion at the first reopening of the dispute between
them. However, anything, in Frank's opinion,
was better than deadly passivity : given the oppor-
tunity of speech, he could defend himself.
"Well," lie said, "it was a soldier's duty to
carry out orders, if possible ; as such I was bound
in honor to do it first of all. I 'm sorry to have
offended you, Lucy, but it had to be done, because
it was the right thing to do," said Frank resolutely.
" The only thing I am sorry for is to have made
you mad at me."
" And you forgot me and left me shut up twenty-
four hours — a thing you would not have done to
the meanest rebel prisoner. You did not think
enough of me even to ask if I 'd starved to death,"
she said coldly, nullifying his plea.
"Well, I know I did," he acknowledged stur-
dily, " but you know I had some excuse for it. I
had the confidence of men high in authority that
I could not violate, and, more, the honor of the
State was at stake. If it had been my own mother
— and even you can't say I don't care for her —
it would have been the same, — duty first."
They were both silent while the horse climbed
the hill, and on the level at the top Frank said,
earnestly and diffidently : —
" But you 've had your revenge. You ought to
be satisfied. There has hardly been an hour since
that I have not thought of you. You know how
I tried to see you, and how you 've treated me. To
paraphrase your own words, you wouldn't have
treated the meanest Copperhead so. Sent my let-
ters back unread. Why did n't you read the last
one, when you kept it ? " looking at her keenly.
He was rewarded by seeing her start slightly, and
a flitting of red stain the pale cheek next him.
264 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
"We are more than even, Lucy. You know
you are unjust. Even tliese Copperhead knights
will be given a hearing, a thing you are not fair
enough to grant me," he pleaded artfully, appeal-
ing, as he well knew, to one of her strongest char-
acteristics, an unfaltering sense of justice.
" I did not mean to be unfair to you, Frank.
But it hurt me so, the contempt, the anger, and
all you did to me."
Frank made no reply to her accusation, but
asked : —
" Will you read my letter now?"
" How can I ? "
He drew it from his pocket, crumpled with his
hasty thrust, and laid it on her lap with the address
She looked at him in startled surprise. " How
did you get it ? " she stammered.
" Eead it first," he demanded stubbornly ; " then
I '11 tell you."
She seemed no longer able to resist his will,
which was like iron under his seemingly light,
careless exterior, and she tore the letter open and
read it. It was a manly, straightforward appeal
for forgiveness, and a warm plea for a renewal of
her friendship, and it expressed his conviction of
his duty as a citizen and a soldier. " You women
forget," he concluded, "that, while we fight, you
stand in the most sacred lodgment of our hearts.
It is for you, after aU, that men accomplish any-
thing that is worthy ; put forth their best efforts
for your approval ; risk their lives in great causes
to save their homes where you abide ; without you
there would be no high endeavor. Life with only
men in it would soon be a struggle for brute supre-
macy. Few men love each other ; they like, they
admire, they respect, if you will, but rarely love.
You are the only things in creation they really
love. And if, under great stress, their coarser na-
ture rises uppermost — where the softer is impotent,
useless, — and they fail in minor matters toward
you, your finer ones should be patient and forgive."
Lucetta felt like a " damsel possessed of divi-
nation " that had found the purest spring of his
nature. It was so unlike what she had expected
from the gay, reckless, boyish Frank, she coidd
make no comment on it, and tears came to her eyes
so she dared not raise them.
" Now teU me why you would n't read it," in-
" I was afraid to, Frank," she said, so faintly he
could hardly hear her,
" Afraid ? " he said, amazed. " Why ? "
She could not dissemble, and said in almost a
whisper : —
" Because I was afraid I would forgive, to my
shame. It was too easy."
" What a strange reason ! "
His blood leaped faster when he realized what
such a speech might imply. A girl of less integrity
would never have made the admission, but from
one less conscientious it would never have moved
266 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
him. He would liave passed it by as a speecli of
" Is there another reason ? " he insisted, his face
flushing with ardor.
She raised her startled eyes to his face, and they
mutely implored him not to be cruel and force from
her a revelation that to her seemed shameful.
But at that look the tide of passion rose in him
which broke through all barriers of maidenly re-
serve. He must know ! She must tell ! The
horse was walking sedately. He dropped the lines
to the dashboard, and roughly pushed his arm about
" Tell me, is n't there ? Tell me ! tell me ! "
" I never wiU ! " she said desperately, virgin
shame making her as cold as ice.
He tightened his grasp about her, and, throwing
his other arm over her shoulder, held her in a close
embrace, while he took by storm what he had not
the patience to gain by slow advances, — the first
kiss of passion ever snatched from Lucetta's lips ;
and he left her wounded like a doe from a death-
bolt. Such utter shame was never felt since the
First Mother felt it, as an emotion unknown to her,
at creation : the poignancy, the humiliation of it
only her daughters can know ; it is the inheritance
of the chaste. She sighed a heart-broken sigh in
his rough embrace, and her eyes were full of an-
guish, which Frank read aright as soon as he re-
covered his senses. He gathered up his lines again
with one hand, but still kept the other about Lu-
cetta's shrinking body. He felt her tremble, but
waited in silence for her to become a little accus-
tomed to the situation before he spoke. It was
not an unusual position for his free arm when rid-
ing with any of the girls he took driving in his new
buggy on Sunday afternoons. He felt contrition
now that it had ever enfolded another woman.
" You do not respect me, Frank," she faltered at
last, " or you would not treat me so ! "
" Of course not ! " said he, with assumed levity,
" I never thought of such a thing ! For you see,
Lucy, I love you so much that it means all that a
man can feel for his sweetheart ! "
He leaned down and looked into her agitated
face, but her eyes avoided his.
" I surrender, Lucy ! I 'm as much your pris-
oner as you were mine ! " he laughed, and said pro-
vokingly, " but I '11 be sworn you will not forget
me ! Is n't it so ? Own up, Lucy, and we '11 sign
a truce to last through life ! "
" Frank," she said agitatedly, — " you never
thought of this when you set out this morning ! "
With any other girl he might have made a de-
nial, but Lucetta's absolute honesty made him hon-
est, and he answered cheerfully, —
" Why, of course not ! Neither did you, I
reckon ! "
The beguilement of this speech made her set
face slacken to a slight smile.
" That 's right, Lucy ; now we can talk things
268 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
He felt her rigid body relax within his encir-
cling arm, and he smiled in her face with trium-
phant fervor as he drew her closer to his side.
The rest of the way, on the lonely unfrequented
road, they talked as lovers do, and planned for that
future which, for the gallant soldier, might never
Frank fully approved Lucetta's plan of educat-
ing herself, for he had learned among other things
at Wahoo University that, while women's minds
might not be quite equal to the curriculum for
men, the ancient and time-honored theory that they
ceased to develop after eighteen was a fallacy,
like curing witchcraft by burning the witch, or
the king's evil by touching the king. He was wise
enough to recognize that an educated wife would
better fit into his ambitious schemes for the future
than an ignorant one, while, to do him justice, he
was proud of the pluck and perseverance that had
led Lucetta to the realization of her dreams. He
told her that after the war he should study law,
and his aspirations were such as to carry him into
the halls of national legislation. But if he gave up
his life in battle he would have done his duty, and
that was all a man coidd do.
His hopes and fears he unreservedly poured
into her willing ears, and only too speedily the
spires of Crof ton came into view from the top of
the last hill above the town.
" Lucy," he said, " little did I think this morn-
ing that I 'd be nearly the happiest man in Middle
County. I did not dream of going off to war and
leaving the dearest, noblest sweetheart a soldier
ever left behind. I '11 never laugh again at the
fellows that used to steal away and hide to read
certain letters the rest of us used to joke so irrev-
erently about, for I '11 know how to sympathize
when I get yours. One thing more would make
me the very happiest man alive."
"What is it, Frank?" she asked ingenuously,
and, looking up into his ardent eyes, she read his
" Oh, I can't, Frank ! " she faltered, and shrank
" Can't you give me one kiss of your own ac-
cord? It will be the last good-by, dear, that we
take here, for you know you would n't like public
demonstrations. Just kiss me once ! " he pleaded.
She looked up, quickly dropped on his lips the
first kiss she had ever bestowed on a lover, then
buried her face on his breast, trembling and crying.
He dimly wondered why this most chaste of
women had been reserved for him, whose lips had
hitherto showered kisses with careless prodigality ;
it was like asking a Vestal to quit her high office ;
the young soldier felt it, and knew Lucetta could
never have bestowed that kiss without her faithful
" God bless you, dear, and make me worthier of
you ! " he said fervently.
THE TREASON TRIAL
After the soldiers had withdrawn from the
mimic battlefield at Kidgely, comparatively little
punishment followed on this act of insurrection.
The governor's leniency in this particular was a
matter of surprise to every one, and to none more
so than to the Knights themselves. With rare
wisdom, he made no autocratic display of power at
a time when it would have been most hazardous to
do so. Such a course would certainly have firmly
united the scattered forces of " Butternuts," and
led to a more effective organization. He placed
the responsibility on the leaders. One by one they
were apprehended, until Milligan, Bowles, Dodd,
Heffren, and Coultiss were imprisoned. Such men
as Harv Wilson were held in the jails of the
county seats in which they lived, and were ulti-
mately released on bail. The rank and file were
left to the torment of their own fears, dreading
yet expecting hourly arrest, followed by worse
punishment, regarding which their untutored im-
aginations ran to extremes, and they were in an
agony of suspense. The more cowardly members
ran away from the State ; others were in hiding
THE TREASON TRIAL 271
in caves and secret places in the ravine near their
The preparation for the uprising of August 16th
had been simidtaneous in all the Temples through-
out the State. But Governor Morton was fully in-
formed, and prepared at every point. When well
convinced that an insurrection was imminent, with
matchless forbearance he ordered written notices
sent to the leaders that, if they were found en route
to Indianapolis on August 15th and 16th, they would
be held personally responsible for resulting dis-
The leaders, fully convinced of the futility of
insurrection, sent cipher messages far and near to
the commanders of the County Temples, who, in
turn, were to notify the Branch Temples of the
discovery of their plans, and the danger of persist-
ing in attempting to carry them out. The small
outposts remote from telegraphic communication,
that received mail only two or three times a week,
were informed by couriers, and the message chosen
was the one Frank Neal had intercepted on its
way to Harv Wilson, " Look out for a drove of
mules ; " for, to meet any emergency, troops had
been ordered into the localities where greater dis-
order was anticipated, — those well-known strong-
holds of treason on which the governor had kept a
vigilant eye, in the midst of terrible harassment.
Three expeditions in wagons actually succeeded
in reaching the city limits of the capital, but were
met by officers and ordered to return home, or be
272 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
taken prisoners to be treated as enemies ; and they
promptly retreated, nor stood upon the order of
If lenient toward the masses, Governor Morton
was swift to punish the leaders.
It was a solemn hour when, for the first time in
her history, the Commonwealth arraigned six of
her citizens for the monstrous crime of internecine
treason. These six, in their own persons, stood for
some thousands whom they had instigated to trea-
On that morning in September when the com-
mission first met, the dingy old state-house was
the centre of interest to the entire State, indeed to
the nation. Within the court-room a crowd had
gathered. The seven commissioners and the judge
advocate were in their places, and before them, on
trial for life, were to be brought the heads of the
conspiracy. The usual preliminaries were gone
thi'ough, and, when the actual trial began, interest
and suspense had reached painful intensity.
Dodd was the first of the conspirators called to
trial. His air of supreme fanaticism still hung
about him. He seemed incapable of realizing his
position, and sat unmoved on the witness-stand,
with eyes filled with burning ardor, and a visible
exaltation of countenance. Lingering on the edge
of the crowd were Harv Wilson, who was out on
bail, and had come secretly to the trial, and some
of his confreres. There is a majesty in the law
and its slow execution that makes itself felt by a
THE TREASON TRIAL 273
mere display of its machinery, stately, relentless,
cold, and incorruptible. Brought face to face with
it in issues that involve life and death, these
offenders recognized its immense potency with fear
and trembling. For the first time, they felt actual
terror of the power of the law and its executive.
A deep silence prevailed in the court room as
the bailiff brought forward the first witness for the
State. The rustling of law papers could be dis-
tinctly heard. Even Dodd was impressed, and cast
down his eyes, while through his fanatical mind
flashed forebodings of mortal peril. An absolute
hush followed. When the oath was administered
to the witness, and his soft Southern voice answered
distinctly and reverently, there was a straining of
eyes and a rising on tiptoe to see him. Dodd
lifted a startled glance to the face of the witness,
and gazed bewildered on the man who held his
every secret, and, as the thought penetrated his
confused senses that this man held his life in his
power, that he was his familiar adviser, his coad-
jutor in the most outrageous schemes of treason,
and held in his grasp every thread of the conspi-
racy, he was unmanned.
He blinked as one does on coming from grateful
darkness into painful light, scarcely believing in
the evidence of his own eyes. He looked again.
There was no mistaking the tall, slender fellow,
the red-blonde hair, the marked accent, the ready
speech, of his ally the " Secretary of the Grand
Council of the State of Kentucky." At that in-
274 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
stant Dodd lost all hope of escape from the doom
of a traitor. His gaze traveled over the cold com-
posed faces of the commission, then turned to the
people, who were agape with curiosity, and who
had no knowledge of the tragic drama played by
the two actors before them. But there was no-
thing to cheer him in the aroused faces of the
As Grundy with terrible accuracy laid bare the
facts of the conspiracy, from the stupendous
schemes of Vallandigham to the meetings in the
cabin on Harv Wilson's farm, the evidence be-
came more damning, and the ghastly phantom of
death more real to the man who listened while the
smooth stream of revelation poured upon the ears
of the astounded people.
After one amazed glance, Harv, who had risen
to stare over the heads of those in front of him,
sank down to his place panic-stricken, and cursed
under his breath, when he recognized in the wit-
ness the rag-peddler, Oliver Tapp. He muttered
savagely, " The old hell- witch was right after all ! "
and lost no time in leaving the court room.
He crossed the canal, where he and two or three
confederates had mean lodgings, and reported to
them the terrifying incident that gave so dramatic
a turn to the trial, and then unfolded his own plans.
One of these men, Lattam, had been a rebel officer
and was bold and defiant ; Pearson, the other, had
been on the staff of the Supreme Commander, but
neither was well known in Indianapolis.
THE TREASON TRIAL 275
Zerfus had followed Harv up from the country
with the servility of a serf.
" It 's all up with us," said Harv, " if we 're
caught ! That fellow knows everything. The best
thin 2: we can do is to light out for Canada this
Zerfus, of course, agreed with Harv, but Lat-
tam and Pearson were experienced in intrigue, had
a reckless love of adventure, and were incautious
to a point where life had no value. They both
repudiated the idea.
" And leave these men without help ? "
" It 's likely they can get out of a military
prison guarded day and night, ain't it ? " sneered
" When they have friends outside, they 've been
known to do it ; that is, friends that are n't afraid
to risk something," said Pearson scornfully.
Harv was tasting the humiliation of a craven,
for his companions had discerned his utter selfish-
ness. They suspected, if an emergency should
arise, that to save himself he would turn informer.
They said nothing more, however, and a week
passed. During that time Grundy had related,
bit by bit, with wonderful accuracy, the details of
the wildest scheme of modern history, — a wide-
spread, ill-planned attempt at revolution not unfit-
ting the invention of a knight of old who broke
lances against harmless windmills ; and he proved
himseK the most patriotic, reliable, acute, and cour-
ageous man in the employ of the government, and,
276 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
moreover, conscientiously earnest in breaking up
internecine treason, from which he himself had
suffered greatly. His knowledge of the part each
of the six heads of the conspiracy had taken was
perfect and convincing, and fell on their ears with
the fatal finality of the cry of the doomsman.
During this interval Harv's associates came in,
and Pearson said to him : —
" Well, Wilson, we 've found a way to be of use
to our Grand Commander. Will you help ? "
Harv gave a grudging assent and said : —
" But I 'd like to know your plans."
" Well, we went to Dodd's brother," said Lat-
tam, " and told him to use his influence with the
authorities to get him removed from the military
prison to better quarters, and the fools did it ! "
All three laughed derisively.
" You ain't jokin' ? " exclaimed Harv incredu-
" No. Dodd 's now in a room in the third story
of the Post-office Building."
" It beats me how he managed it," observed
" Well, he gave his parole of honor he would n't
try to escape, and his brother pledged all he was
worth to the same end, and that clinched it.
Moved he was."
" Precious fools they were," said Lattam con-
" Well, I don't see that it 's any easier to get
him out there. I reckon he 's guarded."
THE TREASON TRIAL 277
" There 's not a guard outside," said Pearson
slowly, as if to impress his hearers with the egre-
gious folly of the authorities. " They depend on
" Well, I don't see how he can get out of the
third story anyway ; he ain't got wings," Harv
" No, but he 's got a ball of twine," laughed Lat-
tam, " which won't be so awkward for him to han-
" Sometimes they come in handy. Go on and
tell me your plan. I see you 've got one, though
I 'm blamed if I see how you '11 work it," said
" Well, this afternoon three of his dear friends
got permission to visit him ; I was one of them.
We were n't allowed to stay long. When we
went away we left behind a ball of twine, and I
had previously prepared a little note telling him to
look carefully for it after we were gone, and de-
tailing the whole plan of escape. I shook hands
last with him, and left the note in his hand."
" What 's the next step in the game ? " asked
Harv, more interested and hopeful.
He recognized in Lattam a fellow of greater
craft and sterner resolution than himself ; a leader
by right of ability to prevail in the face of desper-
ate obstacles ; his spirit, broken by failure, yielded
" My plan is simple and easy enough. To-mor-
row morning about three o'clock we will try to get
278 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN
a rope to him. At our signal lie will let down the
twine, and when the road is clear he can escape
down the rope. Pearson will watch at the alley
for the policeman to pass on his beat, and will then
turn out the gas that lights it. These October
mornings are as black as hell, and the alley will
be as dark as a coal shaft. If he can get down
the rope the rest is easy."
"A good plan, if you can work it," observed
" We '11 work it all right, only Piatt 's got drunk
and jailed, and we have n't any trusted man to be
ready with the carriage."
Harv saw what vms expected of him, and re-
sented the implication conveyed by Lattam in not
asking him boldly.
To right himself in their esteem, he covered up
his chagrin and said heartily : —
" I 'm your man ! "
" All right," said Lattam, so cordially that Harv
felt he was in favor again.
At the appointed hour these three men, Lattam,
Pearson, and Wilson, grown subtile in conspiracy,
were at their posts. And the next morning the
city rang with the escape of the prisoner, Dodd.
Harv secretly returned home, a defeated and
crestfallen man, whose influence in the neighbor-
hood was dead. Bold villany can be forgiven,
but not weak failure, and Harv tasted to the full
the ignominy of deposed leadership.
The flight of Dodd had the effect of making the
THE TREASON TRIAL 279
surveillance over the other prisoners more constant,
and perhaps influenced the severity of their sen-
tence, which was death.
At Ridgely, reports of the trial were received
with eager concern, the testimony of Tapp and
Frank Neal being of special interest. The revela-
tion of Tapp's identity was received with amaze-
ment. Every peculiarity of the man was can-
vassed, every speech recalled with that minute
attention to details the most trifling peculiar to
country neighborhoods. In the mean time he was
exalted to heroship with Frank. But there was
consternation when a rumor reached there that
Bowles and Milligan were writing confessions, and
implicating men whose names hitherto had been
unmentioned, or who had escaped with slight pun-
ishment, and there was an exodus to Canada that
bade fair to depopulate the county. Harv Wilson
was one of the first to flee ; but old Mrs. Bowles
stood her ground — defying everybody, from the
governor down to the constable.
Later on, when they heard of the assassination
of Lincoln, — grown pure and exalted by high and
noble purposes until fitted for the martyrdom he
met, — there came to them the realization of the
true meaning of domestic treason, and the influ-
ence of the order was broken. To this day, there
are no claimants in Middle County to the spurs of
the Knights in Fustian.
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